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Leap Day, 2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bad earpiece Permalink to this item

Donald Trump has bad manners, bad hair, bad sound guys giving him bad microphones, bad supporters, a bad memory, bad Tweets, and... it was a very bad earpiece responsible for his failure to recognize David Duke and the KKK and properly disavow them last week.

So bad that he "refused to condemn the support of white supremacist groups four times, saying he would need to see a list of specific groups first."


He's not disavowing the Mussolini quote, though. "It's a very good quote. It's a very interesting quote."

Oscar Permalink to this item

It was late by the time we got to it, spoilers about movies we hadn't seen (and won't see) piling up on Twitter and Facebook. Chris Rock launched it with biting truth that had the audience wondering whether they should laugh but with no other possible response.

It needed acceleration, of course, zip through the ads (even though they did look like better than average ads), and pretty much all the acceptance speeches, generally the least interesting part of the show. We did notice the addition of a crawl saying all the people the winner had to thank, which would have had to have been prepared in advance, so might as well have included all the people the losers wanted to thank, too. They came that close, after all.

"It's a different kind of racist. Is Hollywood racist? You're damn right it's racist but it's sorority racist. It's like: We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa." – Chris Rock

The LA Times offered the nights more memorable moments, described in text, what? Isn't this about movies? And the news that we missed Joe Biden and Lady Gaga and DiCaprio lamenting how hard it was to find snow, and that the "Weeknd's" performance of "Earned It" and all the black lingerie spun around it was.. really special, while for us it was... The End. Like I said, it was late.

Leave it to the Beeb to mention that Leo finally got his golden statue. The NY Times mentioned that too, near the top of their bullet list, if not the headline. They pushed "Mad Max: Fury Road" down to the bottom of their bullet list, even though it had the biggest haul (six), and was part of what wore us down. That and didn't it seem like a really small handful of pictures even getting mentioned (over and over and over), and weren't there more good movies than that this year?

Ah, here we are, one take on "The Best" of the night, boiled down to 2½ minutes (starting with Mad Max Mad Max Mad Max Mad Max), but damnit, no Gaga. That's boiled to dessication, I'm afraid. The follow-on vid for "My Oscar Moment" was intentionally cringe-inducing, that fear of forgetting your big line, but "something about being flung into space" might say it all. (That BBC story did have video snippets... was that DiCaprio's whole acceptance speech in 5 seconds? That would have been brilliant. And a tiny hint of Gaga's powerful performance.)

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

Labrador's land-takeover experiment Permalink to this item

One of the interesting things about Twitter is its sort-of direct access to public figures. Whether or not it actually is egalitarian, it feels like it is. Somebody famous blurts something out, and you can reply to him or her, on an equal 140-character footing. Sometimes a sort-of conversation ensues, as today, when Idaho's 1st district Congressman Raúl Labrador floated this teaser to his newsletter item:

Forest Service has trouble fulfilling its multiple-use mission. One fix: My bill allowing local management.

— Raúl R. Labrador (@Raul_Labrador) February 26, 2016

The Forest Service's trouble meeting its mission could well be due to continuing attacks on its funding, from Labrador and his fellow Tea Party hacks. I tweeted back that his bill was more vague notion than "fix," and he tweeted "the state will manage it better, our state lands are healthier and more vibrant than our federal lands."

The sort-of responsiveness is nice, but the quality of the conversation is limited. Labrador knows as well as I do that Idaho's state and federal lands are unique, and not really comparable. (For one thing, Idaho has more than twelve times as much federal as state lands.) The state's Constitution mandates management for maximum financial return to nine specific beneficiaries. (Public schools have been getting 60% or more of the income.) There are no state land equivalents to the 15 national Wilderness areas, for example.

A new system of land boards comprising a small group of volunteers could be an interesting experiment. To call it a "fix" or to insist that these brand-new volunteer boards will manage lands better is fact-free boosterism from someone who's more usually the most negative person in the room.

We might also run the "experiment" of actually providing adequate funding for land management at the federal level, but that would never come from Labrador, who only wants to defund and delete everything he can from the federal government.

We could examine the market and tax incentives that have played a large part in dramatic reduction (and relocation) of the timber industry. We could consider how the "federal mismanagement" Labrador loves to blame for things starts in the Congress (where he works part-time). Rather than doing his best to be a firebrand, he might try collaboration instead of the facile excuse that Democrats prevented his great ideas from going anywhere.

And if the scene is as dire as Labrador paints, a not-to-exceed 2% "demonstration project" that will take years (or decades) to reliably show progress or failure is not nearly enough of a response.

Don't call it a University Permalink to this item

In the embedded video titled What is Trump University? it's noted that "the company changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative in 2010 after the New York State Board of Education said it was 'misleading and even illegal' to call it a 'university.'"

80,000 attendees for free introductory seminars. 9,200 of those prospects bit on the three-day, $1,495 "seminar," and almost 800 people paid for more, from ten grand on up to $35,000 for the "mentorship program." The TWI lives on, but "classes stopped being offered in 2010."

Not that facts seem to matter much these days, but the Washington Post keeps trying. Those lawsuits Trump says he "won much of" or "most of"? Huh uh. All three—two class actions, and one for $40 million, from the people of the State of New York—are still pending. Three Pinocchios.

Throwback machine Permalink to this item

The thing about a blog is, there is no last word, but rather than contradict myself with an update on the previous item, I'll just say that Jonathan Chait explained the Trump-Christie deal succinctly:

"For Christie, the logic could not be more simple. Trump is his party’s front-runner. If another candidate held that position, Christie would be dealing with him."

While that might have gone without saying, Chait makes the short run to the obvious conclusion a pleasure, from describing the Trump-Christie divergence in two action-packed sentences in the opening graf, to the "the withering incomprehension of Ted Cruz, who has made opposition to deal-making in all its forms the foundation of his career."

H/t to Marc Johnson for finding Chait's post before I did.

The Bounder and the Buffoon Permalink to this item

Chris Christie changed his spots in a hurry, was it just to give another bully punch to the hapless Marco Rubio? Translated into only slightly more decorous prose for the New York Times, we're left to wonder: can this really be happening?

"Mr. Rubio suggested that Mr. Trump had urinated in his trousers and used illegal immigrants to tap out his unceasing Twitter messages. Mr. Trump countered by suggesting that Mr. Rubio’s excessive perspiration had no place in the White House and brandishing a water bottle to mock the senator’s chronic thirst.

"Waving the bottle across a stage at a Texas rally, pouring half its contents onto the floor and then taking giant gulps from it, Mr. Trump ridiculed his younger rival with exaggerated facial gestures. “It’s Rubio!” he shouted to loud applause and cheers."

In the first presidential campaign I was aware of, Kennedy v. Nixon, stage makeup played a role, but not a starring role. Now this, Rubio in "what at times felt like a stand-up routine" making fun of Trump's "sweat mustache."

"As the scatological schoolyard taunts passed back and forth on Friday, slack-jawed voters struggled to contain their shock."

Christie interrupted the Rubio messaging about Donald Trump as "con man," campaign amnesia erasing his recollection of his own assessment, pre-suspender. (We can agree that Trump is "rewriting the playbook of American politics," though.) The media do have clipfiles, and are happily digging away. Politico, to pick one of many: 8 times Chris Christie suggested Donald Trump shouldn't be president.

“President of the United States is not a place for an entertainer,” is one of the good ones, from a member of the party that deifies Ronald Reagan.

"[Trump U.] students didn't meet Trump. All they got was a consolation prize: the opportunity to take a photo with a life-size cardboard cutout of him."

“Always beware of the candidate for public office who has the quick and easy answer to a complicated problem,” Christie warned us last summer. Also the one who bows out and then bows down, precisely timed to provide quick and easy distractions from the complicated problem of a parade of lawsuits alleging Trump University was as phony as its namesake (if real enough as multilevel marketing), and calls for a look at the inconvenient truths contained in Donald Trump's tax returns which has the Donald tweeting like a stuck pig. If we didn't pay attention to the kickbacks, the union-busting, the mob, and corporate welfare, will we pay attention to taxes? Maybe we wlll, given we all have personal (and usually unhappy) experience with those, and because omg, it's looking like Trump is the One a lot more than anyone was willing to even imagine last August.

If we did want to pay attention, we would follow David Cay Johnston's guidance as to 9 Key Points about Trump's Income Taxes (and many more questions). With his hyperlinks:

"The awful truth is that Congress burdens most of us with taxes, but for many of the super-rich, including Trump, the income tax system is a massive source of wealth.

"By law, billionaire business owners can live free of income taxes if they wish. Every major tax practitioner knows this, as I have explained repeatedly in articles and books going back two decades..."

Trump managed to make the WSJ editorial board huffy. How huffy, they protect with their paywall, but at least "If he loses in the end, the guy should start up Trump Political School" which is funny for all the right reasons.

As for the endorsements parade, we'll give Andy Borowitz the last word, in the headline I assume he wrote for himself: Christie’s Endorsement of Trump Threatens to Overshadow Equally Prestigious Praise from David Duke.

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

From the belfrey Permalink to this item

We have the latest GOP debate in the can, but I'm not sure we'll find the inclination to actually watch it. Lindsey Graham got pushed off the undercard and out of the race, but he might be more entertaining, joking (only a little) about his party gone "batshit crazy" (CNN video autoplays, ugh) and one answer to the question of how do you solve a problem like MariaRafael: "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

Cruz's counterargument was that if you want to be liked, President is not the job for you. (Ergo, Ted Cruz could be the greatest president of all time.)

Donald Trump, the greatest businessman of all time (in his own bluster) has a selection of paranoid theories about why the IRS audits him every year. How about... there's a lot of money at stake, you've been responsible for a slew of bankruptices, and you can't actually be trusted? Because "I'm a strong Christian" is not among the answers the IRS would have considered; for one thing, they wouldn't have found much evidence in Trump's returns to date.

Romney's advice to Trump to release his returns doesn't sound all that friendly. "Just a couple of years. ... This'll give us a real sense of whether these people are on the up and up and whether they've been telling us things about themselves that are true or not." Romney has the "frank" notion that there's a bombshell inside Trump's returns, that being he's not as wealthy as he says he is (which wouldn't actually show up on income taxes, eh), or hasn't been contributing to charity as much as he pretends to. Probably not reaching the full 10% Christian tithe.

For his part, Ted Cruz made an excellent argument for voting Democratic in November:

"The reality is, Democrats bat about a thousand; just about everyone they put on the [Supreme] Court votes exactly the way they want. Republicans have batted worse than five hundred, more than half the people we have put on the Court have been a disaster."

By "a disaster," we have to assume he means "not as batshit crazy as I am."

You don't need a crystal ball to know that Cruz's "principled" defense of the Constitution is a load of guano. He can't accept the originalist interpretation of presidential eligibility, of course, because it would punt him out of the race. And the whole schtick about Obama should hold off nominating Scalia's replacement is self-serving nonsense as far as the actual Constitution is concerned.

"The very debate over the legitimacy of Obama’s nomination is the clearest evidence that those politicians who declare their fidelity to the Constitution most loudly often could not care less about what the document actually says or requires."

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

This actually happened Permalink to this item

Representative Pete Nielsen is also not a doctor, but... well, no need to paraphrase. This happened in Idaho's legislature today:

Nielsen: 'Now, I'm of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident.  That may be true with incest a little bit.'

Betsy Russell reported it. Along with the bill to require providing women seeking abortions "a state-compiled list of providers who could provide them with free ultrasounds," passing on a party-line vote. And Nielsen doubling down.

Asked how he knew that, Nielsen said, “I read a lot of information. I have read it several times. … Being a father of five girls, I’ve explored this a lot.”

H/t to Better Idaho for the quickmeme. They may be sorry they already awarded the 2016 Facepalm Awards (even though Nielsen won one for something else).

Mastering political correctness Permalink to this item

I'm not a real doctor, but I have a Masters degree... in science. It never occurred to me that had something to do with slavery, which it doesn't, of course, but the BBC headline, "Harvard abolishes 'master' in titles in slavery row" made we wonder how they connected those dots. I thought it was something about mastery.

Turns out they're not going to rename my degree (yet?!), which isn't from Harvard anyway; the story's about "house masters." The persons in charge of residential halls are to be known as "faculty deans."

"Harvard academics say that the word 'master' derives from the Latin term 'magister' - a form of address for scholars or teachers. It is similar to terms such as 'school master' or 'head master'.

"But protesters have argued that whatever its original derivation, the word now has connotations of slavery."

Harvard's motto—Veritas—is ok. But the coat of arms with the "notoriously brutal slaveholder" from the 18th century on may be subject to change. And why not? The university was established in the 17th century anyway. There must have been somebody thoughtful and kindly they could feature from their initial century?

Not as easy for Amherst College to face the veritas of its past, with "its informal mascot, Jeffery Amherst, an 18th Century general accused of advocating infecting native Americans with smallpox."

Note to the Beeb: "smaller" is not the same as "small in comparison." 21,000 students is a not-small university, no matter the size of others. (And fun fact: the enrollment at the University of Wisconsin's summer school when I splashed around in Lake Mendota in 1975 was about 20,000; versus 60,000-ish during the "regular" semesters. It was down below 44,000 last fall.)

The 4th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (our best in the house) has twenty-three separate meanings (in sixteen numbered entries) for "master" as a noun; it would take a lot of rewriting to purge all of those from our usage.

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

Bully pulpit Permalink to this item

It doesn't matter how thin you slice the cheese... or make the pancake, there's always that other side to it. Tasty wisdom from Idaho's Rep. Kelley Packer in her week 6 report from the legislature. She opines upon the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its "not necessarily honest" voice, starting with the fact that as a 501(c)(3) organization, they're not supposed to be lobbying, but they are at the Capitol doing that All. The. Time.

" organization that just oozes of hypocrisy. They require people to be transparent in how much they make and where their money comes from and what they spend and what they spend it on yet they refuse to disclose that same information. That's hypocritical to me. They say that they're all about fiscal conservative values but yet they cost us thousands and thousands of dollars in document requests, in votes that make us come back for a special session, or that extend our session. They run bills that are unconsitutional according to our AGs, which costs money... How's that conservative?"

Birds of a feather Permalink to this item

The inevitable "flocking" puns are engaged for the birds returning to their sanctuary in Harney County. One commenter noted that Arnold Law of Eugene, Oregon is on the way, too. In their Facebook post they say "we have a forensic scientist & investigator heading to the refuge" this week, and for all those who wish to support the family, and the lawyers, there's a legal defense fund accepting donations. The "first fundraising goal expires Feb. 27th," but I'm just sure there'll be a second, third, and so on. Whatever it takes. (Meanwhile, Ryan Bundy will have a court-appointed lawyer. And Cliven? He's asked for one, but haven't seen the answer. Maybe Ted Cruz could represent him, in exchange for Bundy's vote in the Nevada caucus? But no, I guess Cliven won't be attending that, will he? He's tied up in Portland. So to speak.)

It's going to take a lot more than a forensic scientist and investigator. How about... "Constitutional lawyer" (and mostly, "talk show host") Kris Anne Hall, who was last heard in the live feed from the end of the occupation, saying things that seemed to encourage David Fry to commit suicide. She's got a nine-minute video with a buy-real-estate-with-no-money-down vibe, palm trees waving while she opines upon What's Really Going on in Oregon!

"The people are not acting lawlessly, it's the federal government that's acting lawlessly."

Saying crazy things more emphatically does not actually make them more true, however. I would love to see the video of her demanding a judge (rather than a camera) with the "show me!" and "don't tell me!" act.

Meanwhile, our not so well-regulated militia had a weekend casualty: an unfortunate 12-year-old who was hospitalized after being accidentally shot in the stomach when things went pear-shaped at a Rupert gun range. Too much fun after the big gun rights rally at the Capitol on Saturday.

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

Ted Cruz sent us a check Permalink to this item

junk mail

Campaign junk mail is about as equally uninteresting on paper as in an electonic inbox, but give one campaign credit for earning a bit of attention. Not sure how they got Jeanette on her list, but it would have to be poorly vetted to include a Democratic Party Precinct Committeeman. The return address features "U.S. Senator Ted Cruz" in that gee it must be official florid Gothic font, under the scribble he passes for a signature. (Fine print says personal business, not printed or mailed at taxpayer expense.) A window envelope with bold-as-brass CHECK ENCLOSED on the outside. Not the sort of thing you'd discard without opening, right?

The contents have the usual folderol, a blah blah blah letter (addressed to "Dear Fellow Conservative"), a return envelope, and said check attached to a "matching gift reply form." The check has the same Ted Cruz "Authorized Signature" and a quasi-familiar "Security Features Included" notation with a padlock, a make-believe bank routing number. It's payable to Cruz for President.

The check

We all know it's a joke, right? "A facsimile not redeemable or negotiable and has no cash value," so don't get any crazy ideas and try to get $45 from a bank with it; they wouldn't be amused.

Between the check and the MATCHING GIFT REPLY from below it, right along the fold, there's a dotted horizontal rule, with "DO NOT DETACH" in the middle. It has all the indications of something you'd detach, but the instruction not to detach it. Who makes this stuff up? What is wrong with them?

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

Opening up suction dredge mining with no regulation Permalink to this item

Rep. Paul Shepherd (R-Riggins), from down where the Little Salmon flows into the main Salmon River, below the so-called "River of No Return" and the swath of wilderness across the middle of Idaho, has cooked up a little something called HB 510 to (as the Statement of Purpose puts it) "recognizes the de minimus nature of suction dredge mining and tries to free this important small business vocation from unreasonable regulation." It also says that "We" (the Legislature as a whole, speaking for all of the people of Idaho, really?) "recognize that environmental laws have been effective statewide and no unnecessary burdens are warranted on the suction dredge mining community for undocumented harm to aquatic habitat and assumed harm to free swimming fish."

Ok, then... what? It turns out that state law already provides a threshold for sucking up rocks, sand, gravel, micro- and macro-organisms and ok, maybe some small fry in hopes of finding something shiny and valuable. I don't know the history, but a five inch diameter intake has been set as a threshold for what regulation there is.

Photo comparing 5" and 8" diameter

Shepherd's bill proposes upping the ante from that to an eight inch diameter hose, which doesn't sound like all that much difference, except when you wonder about "intake" versus "pipe," and do the math to see that that's a 150% increase in the cross-sectional capacity. The amount of material considered de minimus now is 2 cubic yards an hour; Shepherd wants to raise that to 5 cubic yards an hour, that same 150% increase. A nearby Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck has a handy volume scale: the bed is about 2.8 cu yards. The old limit is less than three-fourths of that; the new limit would be almost two full loads. (Don't fill it that full though: half full with a yard and a half of gravel would put you at the 3,000 lb capacity of that manly pickup truck, assuming you didn't suck up some wet sand, too.)

So yippee tie one on, and lets double the size of the hose small business vocationalists can use to suck up the bottom of our rivers, because we just can't imagine that would have any environmental impact or be cause for any sort of regulation.

Shepherd's bill claims "no fiscal impact" to the state, more out of a convenient lack of imagination than anything else. (There are no factual standards that I've seen for legislation fiscal impact estimates.)

Big pickup truck

If you agree with me and the Idaho Conservation League that this sounds like a really terrible idea, use their form (that link) or the list of email addresses on it to tell the members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee. The ICL provides more information and talking points. Here's what I sent in:

Subject: I oppose HB 510 and favor protection for Idaho's streams

Dear members of the House Resources and Conservation Committee:

I find the content of HB 510 rather alarming, the assurances of what it says "the legislature has found" and the possibly beneficial aspects of dredging riverbeds notwithstanding.

Like the vast majority of Idahoans, I think dredge mining should be regulated to protect clean water in our state. I strongly oppose relaxing the standards in place to allow larger, more powerful dredges to be considered "small scale" and unworthy of state oversight.

I note that the proposal would provide for more than 150% increase in the size of the pipe considered too small to regulate (from a 5" dia. intake, to an 8" hose), and a similar increase in the amount of material dredged, from two cu. yards per hour to five. That's a substantial increase, and a LOT of dredging that we're going to pretend has no potential for damage to the environment, and fish.

Furthermore, the final clause declaring that there is "an emergency" in regard to the desire to expand unregulated dredge mining is outrageous. There is no such thing.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Natural(ized) Permalink to this item

The Constitution says “No person except a natural born Citizen ... shall be eligible to the Office of President.” But what, exactly does it mean to be such a Citizen? Mary Brigid McManamon, constitutional law professor at Widener University’s Delaware Law School (and "not a so-called birther. I am a legal historian") says unequivocally that Ted Cruz doesn't have it. From her op-ed for the Washington Post (and with its hyperlinks):

The concept of “natural born” comes from common law, and it is that law the Supreme Court has said we must turn to for the concept’s definition. On this subject, common law is clear and unambiguous. The 18th-century English jurist William Blackstone, the preeminent authority on it, declared natural-born citizens are “such as are born within the dominions of the crown of England,” while aliens are “such as are born out of it.” The key to this division is the assumption of allegiance to one’s country of birth. The Americans who drafted the Constitution adopted this principle for the United States. James Madison, known as the “father of the Constitution,” stated, “It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance.... [And] place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States.”

Most of a week before that op-ed (dated January 12), Jonathan Adler, the Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at the Case Western University School of Law, had weighed in for the "is too" side (citing Neal Katyal and Paul Clement, who McManamon dismissed). He said "there is no question"... and then walked it back with an update about how things were "somewhat murky" back in 1787, but still. "[N]o court disqualified John McCain for having been born in the Panama Canal Zone," and "it was accepted that George Romney could run for President despite having been born in Mexico," which spoke to Alder's confidence that "no Court will question Senator Cruz's credibility" [sic], if not what a Court might actually decide.

If only Antonin Scalia were still alive to stick his meaty paw in another presidential election, what would we have to say? Darn it, we'll never know. (We also can't ask President Romney or President McCain.)

At any rate, Professor McManamon wrote a paper on the subject a year and a half ago if you want more than her op-ed. The Natural Born Citizen Clause as Originally Understood (download is free at the moment), which concludes:

The introduction to this Article posed a question: “in the eyes of early Americans, would someone born in a foreign country of American parents be a ‘natural born citizen’ and therefore eligible to be President of the United States?” The pertinent historical materials lead to only one conclusion: aside from children born to U.S. ambassadors or soldiers in hostile armies, the answer is “no.”

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

When law enforcement goes rogue Permalink to this item

Les Zaitz reports some remarkable things about how others see Oregon's Grant County sheriff, Glenn Palmer: "may not be trustworthy" is the nicest way anyone put it. The bad blood between Palmer and Richard Gray (now the Chief of Police in John Day) goes back to before they both ran for the office of Sheriff. The apparently toxic relations should give any counties with "Constitutional" candidates such as Palmer some pause.

Having the manager of a city's emergency communications complain about the Sheriff being "a security leak" seems a bit scary. The complaint from John Day's 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Manager, Valerie Luttrell ends with this:

"Given the Sheriff's sympathy for the Militia and their cause as well as his involvement in the Constitutional Sheriff's Association, we should all be concerned in his ability to deputize individuals and give them full arrest and use of force powers without accountability as to whom they are."

Answering the question of who all should be allowed access to the Law Enforcement Data System (LEDS), Palmer faxed back his reply written over the inquiry:

Anyone that I deputize - Glenn

Luttrell added her own note that she "talked to Glen [sic] on the phone to clarify that we need a list of employees to ensure that we know who he has deputized" on the morning of Oct. 20, and as of Jan. 28, more than three months later, she said he had not done so. The relevance:

"One incident in particular is on October 21, 2015 at 15:18 when USFS LEO Aaron Henricks made a stop in the Forest near Canyon Meadows (the Dam that was being removed) and he called for a cover unit because he was out with two subjects and had one detained. A call was made to Sheriff Glenn Palmer advising him that a cover unit was requested, he acknowledged the call. The Sheriff later sent the USFS LEO a text message stating that he should take no action with them because they were special deputies for him."

The names of the two individuals in question in the attachments led me to the Grant County Court minutes of October 21 (with props to the Secretary, Mary R. Ferrioli; great detail). They were part of "the large number of people wishing to attend" discussion of the Canyon Meadows dam and its future. It seems the meeting proceeded into the afternoon talking about the Court's non-authorization of the Sheriff's telling the Forest Supervisor that "The Grant County Sheriff is pleased to advise you that Grant County, Oregon is asserting the coordination process [sic] with the U.S. Forest Service," and that the Sheriff has no such statutory authority, and that the "County Public Lands Natural Resources Plan" he cooked up had no public notification or approval, and that the "Forest Service is meeting the county's needs and desires for engagement," but "the Sheriff never shows up when the Malheur comes to coordinate on projects and the scoping process."

"The Malheur" would be the Malheur National Forest, with headquarters in John Day, just north of and contiguous to Canyon City, the county seat, and I imagine that "asserting the coordination process" is some of that Sovereign Citizen/Constitutional Sheriff magic language.

After the meeting, two purported "deputies" of the Sheriff went out and had their own meeting with the Forest Service, it seems.

The demands of Sheriff Palmer made a splash in some circles last fall, with George Plaven's story in the East Oregonian reprinted on the American Mining Rights Association website. It has more information about the mystery resources plan, and Sheriff's deputies.

"Palmer deputized 11 county residents to write and adopt the local plan, though it remains unclear whether they have legal standing to coordinate with the feds."

The County Commission stated in the Oct. 21, 2015 minutes unequivocally that he does not, in their opinion.

The report lists the 11 named deputies: Todd Smith, Elaine Smith, Mike Smith, Brooks Smith, Judy Kerr, Billie Jo George, Terry George, Dave Traylor, Roger McKinley, Jim Sproul and Frances Preston. That list does not include the two purported deputies stopped in the forest, Caleb Maplesden and Jay Carniglia.

A week before the event in the forest, the East Oregonian's editorial board had expressed its opinion of the Sheriff and his "handpicked" team, "many of whom are related to each other" (not that there's anything wrong with that) "trying to pull a fast one" on the rest of the county.

"[T]the secretive creation and surprise revelation of this document is everything the group usually rails against: cabals making decisions behind closed doors, without public involvement, without diversity of opinion or dissenting views. Can you imagine the outrage if the Forest Service had surreptitiously dropped a forest plan in the way this group did?"

The "planners" wanted to have voters affirm their work with the May election, as an initiative, but it appears that won't happen. EO's sister publication, The Blue Mountain Eagle, reported that Grant County Circuit Judge William D. Cramer Jr. ruled Jan. 26 they didn't meet Consitutional muster. In particular, "the full text of the unofficial resources plan was not included," it didn't concern only one subject, and "he ruled the initiative was administrative in nature, whereas only legislative matters are subject to the initiative process."

That's right, they wanted the people of Grant County to vote for a pig in a poke. If anybody outside the Sheriff's cabal has a copy of this thing, they're not making an effort to make it public. There might be a Facebook group called "Citizens for Public Access," but if so, it's secret, and/or private. "Judy Horton Kerr", perhaps that person in the list of deputies, posted a statement attributed to "Bob Kerr - Canyon City" on Facebook, aimed at The Baker County Press.

"A Public Lands Natural Resources Plan was put forth by concerned citizens and has been misrepresented by the Grant County Court and legal counsel, and has under gone a smear campaign by locally distributed newspapers. Only those who stand to lose some of their strangle hold on Grant County economy are demeaning this Plan which, under the Customs and Cultures (Z19404) would return the County to standards of 'common base of values, self-reliance, independence of personal freedoms, of unalienable rights, and through a common sense education system...'"

Is that some internal reference to the "Customs and Cultures" section of the plan? Or the anti-Agenda 21 codebook? Who knows? Check out Judy Horton Kerr's Facebook page, if you dare, and explore "some rot in Grant County" and more secret clues. (She's not a fan of The Oregonian.)

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

Does this gun make my butt look big? Permalink to this item

Jonathan Jones' response to Jeb Bush's gun photo tweet, as "a portrait of the American nightmare" is the the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. It's hard to know which is stranger: the reflection, or the original.

"America is so frightening to itself that people need guns to protect themselves from their neighbours."

Not everyone, Jonathan. We're not all paranoid and ready to shoot in the dark. You saw for yourself what a fun and interesting place this can be. We couldn't possibly be as ugly as our enemies accuse us of being (could we?).

But yeah, the photos are disturbing, inside or out.

Round 'em up and head 'em out Permalink to this item

And speaking of brouhahas, Papa Bundy, Ammon and Ryan, and fellow travelers Ryan Payne and Pete Santilli have expressed support for the work of grand juries (at least the Sovereign Citizen sort), but this is not the sort of thing they had in mind. It's time to face the music for that April, 2014 western theater production, with 16 felony charges and five counts of criminal forfeiture against each of them.

"If convicted of the offenses, they would have to forfeit property obtained from the proceeds of their crimes, totaling at least $3 million, including cattle at the so-called Bunkerville Allotment and Lake Mead National Recreational Area in Nevada. They also would have to forfeit firearms and ammunition used in the April 12, 2014, standoff with federal authorities."

That's right. Obama is coming to get their guns. And ammo.

Truly alarming Permalink to this item

Paul Ryan weighs in on the Romney list today, still working the demonization of Obama. (This time it's the NRCC rather than the NRSC.)

"Over the past seven years, we’ve seen higher taxes, more executive orders, skyrocketing debt, and a diminished respect for the Constitution."

I know, right? But the thing is, taxes aren't much higher, the economy is waaaaaaaaaaaaay better than it was when whatsisname left office, the executive orders meme is a lie, which Ryan would know, so he's a liar. (With an escape clause up his asterisk: Obama's very first executive order was one more than we had before.) The public debt skyrocketed after the financial crisis that blew up on George W. Bush's watch, and is sort of coming under control with the recovery. And tax revenue lower than spending is what makes a deficit. (Vice versa, if you like, but either way.)

The diminished respect for the Constitution, I totally hear that.

Brouhaha in the Republic Permalink to this item

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor says President Barack Obama should name Antonin Scalia's replacement. Obviously.

"Well you just have to pick the best person you can under these circumstances, as the appointing authority must do. And it's an important position and one we care about as a nation, as a people," O'Connor said. "And I wish the president well as he makes choices and goes down that line -- it's hard."

But enough of the voice of reason and experience. Republicans are generally falling into line with the "it's too close to the election" concept that Mitch McConnell announced before Scalia's corpse was cold. And, like McConnell, they're happy to ignore the original intent of the Constitution to do it. Lightweight Marco Rubio cites "functionalism."

"The Supreme Court can function with eight justices," he said. "This is going to be an issue in the campaign."

Ted Cruz works the playground angle. Nominating someone now wouldn't "be fair to the nominee." (Which is true enough; Republicans in the Senate are signalling very strongly they plan to be unfair.) And he expands his notion of "fairness" to propose a policy: "during a lame-duck period, we should not be confirming a Supreme Court nomination."

Don't bother looking for "lame-duck" in the Constitution, either, but if you ask Mitch McConnell, Obama's period started the moment he was elected in 2008, because surely the American people would not make the mistake of electing a tyrant twice. The 2012 election would have reset the lame-duck period of course, starting right... then.

Senator Orrin Hatch weighed in on the PBS Newshour last night with the theory that "usually, you never nominate anyone during the last year of a president." Even without the contradiction of "usually never," this is unhinged from fact. Usually, judges with lifetime appointments continue in their jobs. And usually, and in recent years (whether or not it's an election year), nominees are confirmed. (He could look it up.) It's been a while since an opening occurred within 12 months of an election, but that has nothing to do with "usually," "never," or "policy." The average tenure of the remaining eight justices is just over 16 years, and counting.

Hatch didn't dispute that the President has "an absolute right to nominate whoever he wants to," otherwise known as one of the Constitutionally enumerated duties of his position. "But, look, let’s get it out of this terrible presidential brouhaha that is going on." (Hatch said "brouhaha" four times.)

This "contentious as can be," "most obnoxious political system" gives the Senate all the cover they could possibly need to execute the ultimate obstruction to the presidency. It's another great example of Republicans screwing up the system and then complaining about how broken it is.

"Well, I think if you are not going to allow it to come up in this brouhaha year, where there’s all kinds of infighting and screaming and shouting, yes, I don’t think any reason — there wouldn’t be any real good reason to have hearings."

Also, "the brutalized system that occurred in the Bob Bork nomination," and "what they did to Clarence Thomas." You mean... approve his nomination for a job on the Court when he wasn't really qualified? (Hatch might have said look what they did to Anita Hill.) Hatch's best line (one commenter said: "I didn't know Sen. Hatch had a sense of humor"):

"I just don’t want the court politicized. And this would be the biggest politicization the court in history."

Ain't no "would be" about it, Orrin. In yesterday's mail bag there was a message from none other than the Senate Majority Leader, sent to the undead Romney for President Inc. list, said to "[reflect] the opinions and representations of NRSC" (the National Republican Senatorial Committee), and looking for recipients to sign a petition (to whom, it does not say) to "stand with Senate Republicans as we hold our ground" to soil the memory of Justice Antonin Scalia and the Constitution he loved, to further our partisan hackery. I'm sure that's a slight paraphrase.

They don't have the temerity to feature it on their website, but a websearch turns it up. Tell President Obama No! is the headline, and I'm sure they'll get lots of signatures from the Romney and McConnell campaign lists. Not to get all political or anything.

Update: There is of course a counter-petition, from Organizing for Action: Tell the Senate to do its job. They want your email address, obviously. And they will hound you for donations with it, but you can ignore them or unsubscribe easily enough. I think the text of the petition you'd be signing is that one, last sentence:

I support a fair nomination process and a timely vote for the next Supreme Court nominee.

It's only fair.

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

Now comes CRIMMINAL COUNTER SUITE Permalink to this item

Fellow by the name of Jack Ryan on Scribd has uploaded a ton of legal documents I couldn't possibly follow, but this pro se filing from Gang of Bundy defendant Shawna Cox is a window into the craziness of the world of Sovereign Citizens.

She called it her "AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE, NOTICE OF CRIMMINAL [sic] COUNTER SUITE [sic] AGAINST FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND OTHER JOHN & JANE DOES 1-1000 WITH CLAIM FOR DAMAGES." The URL deems it the "USA v A Bundy et al Shawna Cox's Fantasy Sovcit Criminal Cross Complaint" and the Scribd sidebar says the Court noted "that to the extent Defendant's pro se assertions are in the nature of civil claims for damages or other civil remedies they are not cognizable in this criminal proceeding and, therefore, will not be addressed in this case." And she should talk to her lawyer about making a proper pleading for her defense.

Awkwardly, Cox's counsel, Tiffany Harris, is a member of the Oregon State Bar, which Cox claims is part of a vast conspiracy to create a "predatory judicial industry that preys" on the likes of herself. Not to put too fine a point on it, but worth underlining in bold face, Cox says

"I am being maliciously prosecuted by State and Federal Bar Association members because they do not want to be held accountable for their subversive activities against the people of the United States of America."

She has a very long list of people she wants to talk to her jury about, not the least of whom is Governor Kate Brown, who, with others, has "organized together to take complete control of the Oregon State Government" for various nefarious purposes.

Also, twenty "affirmative defenses" for anything she might have done herself, and by the way she is "objecting to each and every judge who is a state or federal Bar Association member from presiding over my case," which, if I'm not mistaken, covers the lot of 'em. Last but not least, her CLAIM FOR DAMAGES:

"I am asking for criminal and civil penalties for the perpetrators that subjected me and my witnesses to the crimes I have identified herein. I Claim I and the others involved in these actions have suffered damages from the works of the devil in excess of $666,666,666,666.66 Six hundred sixty six billion, six hundred sixty six million, six hundred sixty six thousand, six hundred sixty six dollars and sixty six cents."

(Is that in... fiat money?)

Update: The Oregonian has the story, with a direct link to Cox's "counter complaint."

Some of Idaho Votes on March 8 Permalink to this item

Photo of a billboard in Boise (I think)

The Idaho GOP's quest to keep the riff-raff out of their primary elections now has a friend in the state's Executive branch. Lawerence Denney, once (and deposed) Speaker of the House is now Secretary of State. He's put up billboards highlighting the Presidential Primary March 8 without room to mention that the Democrats are using a caucus (as they have done for many presidential election cycles), and that's on March 22. The billboard is nominally an ad for the site, which has information about registering to vote, where to vote and so on, and a headline redirection to the SOS page with election and caucus dates and links to the three parties' (Republican, Constitution, Democratic) websites for more details.

The Democrats have more detail about their caucus. The Republicans have a stack of "Election resources" links pointing back to, a paragraph about their presidential primary, and a 100% cocked-up list of boilerplate things "on the ballot" that are not, in fact, on the ballot:

On The Ballot
● Federal, Statewide, Legislative and Judicial Offices
● County Offices
● Initiatives and Constitutional Amendments, if any
● Community Colleges
● Port District General Election
● Soil Conservation Districts

I just tracked down my county's election information, with a sample ballot for March 8, and see it is wholly, and solely, the Presidential Primary Election for one or the other of the Republican or Constitution parties. (And if you go, Republicans, you can still cast your vote for Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Peter Messina, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, or the WRITE-IN candidate of your choice.)

We are having a primary election in May, with "Party Primary Elections for Presidential and other Federal, Statewide, Legislative and Judicial Races," as well as "County Offices, Port District Primary, and Regional Airport Authority" on the ballot, if you can believe the Republicans. You might want to verify that independently, and locally. The Secretary of State might not be helpful. In my case, I called the Ada County election office to confirm what is—and isn't—on the March 8 ballot.

The Idaho Democratic Party has sent a letter to the Secretary, asking him to "immediately stop the misleading and confusing advertising campaign" and to take corrective action.

"As your office is aware, this election is in fact not a full primary election. Rather, it only has two political parties participating: the Constitution Party and the Republican Party. Therefore, your advertising campaign is misleading and inaccurate and likely to cause much confusion for voters seeking to participate in the primary or those voters who associate with any other parties."

We now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast Permalink to this item

Checking in at The Oregonian, I see we can finally move on to a few other topics (even though, ok, the top three stories are still about Malheur and Bundys), including an awesome video of a high-speed chase ending with "man flies out of truck window" and is that the same guy then running away from the OSP, out where there really is nowhere to hide? That must've been some industrial-strength meth.

Douglas Co. Public Works Dept. photo

But if you've driven on windy roads with WATCH FOR ROCK signs, here's an awesome visual on the Tyee Access Road in Douglas County, by the Umpqua River. (Not that the river figures into this, but "Umpqua" is fun to say.) The BLM looks after that stretch of road, wouldn't you know it? Thanks, Obama.

ODOT's Facebook page has an eclectic selection of fun photos, including that rockfall, the lunar eclipse, the awesome sinkhole punched through US 101 (with a drone video of course) and a "critical concrete pour" at Phoenix. 185 yards.

The authoritarian voter guide Permalink to this item

CHQ editor George Rasley continues the fussilade against Trump with the direct headline (Who is Lying Now Mr. Trump?) muddled by a teaser to the Florida Family Policy Council voting guide. The body of the article includes a just-barely readable image of part of the guide, as an array of six candidates by seven litmus positions. Candidates Support, Oppose, or are Unknown, with a lot of asterisks pointing somewhere off-page.

In punchy headline form, with my secret decoder ring to save you from eye strain reading the jpegged text to see the "correct" (a.k.a. Ted Cruz's) position:

Donald Trump is wrong on four out of seven, which might be better than Jeb!, wrong on four and with an Unknown. Marco Rubio and Ben Carson almost match Cruz, but they're wrong on the alien invasion. Kasich has 5 wrong.

The CHQ click-through takes me to the FFPC's "Church" order form, which requires the submitter to be "a PASTOR or an OFFICIAL REPRESENTATIVE" to proceed. (Oh, and if you're worried about a supposedly non-profit organization campaigning for a candidate, note that the guides "simply COMPARE where the candidates stand on the issues, they do not promote any one candidate over another." And, "This eductional voter guide has been reviewed by the attorneys at Liberty Counsel.")

You can go more directly to FFPC's website and get a single-user application, which (ahem) does not actually check your name, email address or ZIP Code™ before allowing you to click straight to the PDF.

Hey, lookie there, they've got the Democrats (a.k.a. the anti-Cruz candidates) on page 2, even. The full-res version reveals numbered footnotes tagged on the spelled-out S, O, U values, and asterisks indicate "COMMENTS AND DIRECT QUOTES ARE PROVIDED TO MORE FULLY UNDERSTAND THE CANDIDATE’S POSITION ON THE ISSUE." See the 55 notes with 77 hyperlinks.

If that seems too big a lift, CHQ contributor (and TravelGolf writer?!) Jeffrey A. Rendall serves up a lengthy comic graphic novel about the "bromance" between Rubio and Trump (because they're both Cruz bashing). Rendall's assessment of the "truly trailblazing" "Cruz Super PAC fueled ground game" is slightly breathless, but I'm sure there will be a ton of "data-driven door knocking" to be had.

The interesting question is whether Trump's supposed "data deficit" will matter much. It can be "certainly part of the reason why Trump must keep his people motivated with a fresh shot of bombastic sensationalism every few days," but Trump seems to enjoy launching "insults and recriminations" at an easy trot. A "fever pitch" is hardly necessary.

16.Feb.16 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Cliven Bundy denied bail Permalink to this item

Reported in The Oregonian: "Judge Janice Stewart agreed with prosecutors that Bundy posed a flight risk, is a danger to the community, and should be held in jail while awaiting trial." The government’s memorandum in support of its motion for pretrial detention is an interesting read. What the Judge agreed is what the prosecutors figured:

"[A]ll the evidence suggests that Bundy will continue to act lawlessly, will not abide by court orders, and will use violence to ensure that federal laws are not enforced as to him."

And it turns out the Bundy "Ranch" is an overworked quarter-section melon farm that's all hat and no cattle. The hundreds of thousands of acres of federal public land around it is where Bundy has been letting his cows run, unmanaged, and rent-free.

"[H]is ranching operation – to the extent it can be called that – is unconventional if not bizarre. Rather than manage and control his cattle, he lets them run wild on the public lands with little, if any, human interaction until such time when he traps them and hauls them off to be sold or slaughtered for his own consumption. He does not vaccinate or treat his cattle for disease; does not employ cowboys to control and herd them; does not manage or control breeding; has no knowledge of where all the cattle are located at any given time; rarely brands them before he captures them; and has to bait them into traps in order to gather them.

"Nor does he bring his cattle off the public lands in the off-season to feed them when the already sparse food supply in the desert is even scarcer. Raised in the wild, Bundy’s cattle are left to fend for themselves year-round, fighting off predators and scrounging for the meager amounts of food and water available in the difficult and arid terrain that comprises the public lands in that area of the country. Bereft of human interaction, his cattle that manage to survive are wild, mean and ornery. At the time of the events giving rise to the charges, Bundy’s cattle numbered over 1,000 head, straying as far as 50 miles from his ranch and into the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, getting stuck in mud, wandering onto golf courses, straying onto the freeway (causing accidents on occasion) – foraging aimlessly and wildly, roaming in small groups over hundreds of thousands of acres of federal lands that exist for the use of the general public for many other types of commercial and recreational uses such as camping, hunting, and hiking.

"Bundy claims he has strong anti-federal government views, proclaiming that the federal government cannot own land under the U.S. Constitution. These are not principled views – and certainly they have no merit legally – but nonetheless serve conveniently as a way for Bundy to somehow try to convince others that he has some reason for acting lawlessly, other than the obvious one: it serves his own ends and benefits him financially. ..."

The memorandum goes on to describe the "extremely violent" showdown in April, 2014, when

"officers confronted an angry mob of more than 270 people directly in front of them, the mob being backed up by gunmen brandishing or carrying rifles and firearms among the unarmed Followers, or perched on high ground in over-watch positions, or in concealed sniper positions aiming their assault rifles from bridges. The officers guarding the gate that day, almost to a person, thought either they, or unarmed civilians in front of them, or both, were going to be killed or wounded. Many of these officers, some of them combat veterans, remain profoundly affected emotionally by this event to this day."

The justication for Bundy's "call to arms" that rallied the wingnuts and seditionists was the BLM "acting unconstitutionally" by impounding Bundy's feral cattle to stop the trespass and theft of natural resources.

"The evidence shows that this was an unprecedented act. The gunmen traveled great distances in a short period of time, answering Bundy’s call to arms, coming from more than ten states to get to Bundy Ranch to confront the BLM, flooding into the Ranch between April 10 and the morning of April 12. The evidence shows that when the gunmen arrived, the conspirators organized them into camps, armed patrols, and security check points."

And Bundy and a lot of those traveling guns are eager to do it again, as we just saw up in Harney County. The memorandum quotes Bundy in an interview on April 12, 2014:

"We the people expressed our power and as a result the Sheriff took control of his county. The Sheriff must protect the agency of man. The people have the power—it’s designed that way—you have the people and then you have the Sheriff. Sovereign citizens on our own land."

But they might need an armed escort to stay out of jail. Bundy's "rarely been seen in public without an armed escort," but of course he couldn't bring his arms with him on the plane to Portland, whoops. Good for Judge Janice, keeping this miscreant where he belongs.

Here we go again Permalink to this item

As seen on Twitter

Challis is the county seat of one of Idaho's big, mostly empty counties. At almost 5,000 square miles, Custer County (named for a gold mine named for the General of the Last Stand) has more land than three states, and a population density less than one person per square mile. Challis's population edged into four figures, just barely, at the last census. The vast majority of the county's land is under US Forest Service jurisdiction, and the BLM looks after most of the rest. Almost all the private land is down along the Big Lost River and US Highway 93, Challis, and around the tinier town of Stanley.

I would guess that "all ranchers" in the county are more aware of what's happening there than any of the Idaho III% wingnuts are (not counting whatever overlap there might be) but the Twitosphere turned up a poster about something happening tomorrow at noon, at the Challis BLM Building. "Support the Hammonds" it says, just like they all tried to do where the Hammonds are actually known, and which turned out so spectacularly badly.

Eric Ej Parker's Facebook post says it's a SOLIDARITY RALLY AGAINST******* LEGISLATIVE TYRANNY and stuff, and invites us to help SPREAD THE VIRUS******. You may remember Mr. Parker (as David Neiwert does, for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch) for his infamous Bundyville photo op, pointing his long gun sniper-style at federal agents from behind the security of concrete Jersey barriers.

I looked but did not find any evidence one way or the other about Custer County Sheriff Stuart Lumpkin's point of view. He hasn't signed on to the CSPOA, at least. The only news he seems to have been while in office since 2008 is about search and rescue.

Toxic trumpeting ticks Ted's team Permalink to this item

With some of the establishment riff-raff run off the field, and Chris Christie's memorable beatdown of Marco Rubio, Conservative HQ's campaign for their guy Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz is in full swing on the Donald. Trump’s Toxic Campaign Wrecking Winning Conservative Coalition tops George Rasley's latest lambastathon, with an alliterative potpourri.

"Let's stipulate right up front," he starts, right up front, "that we know a thing or two about how attack ads work..." But this, this "personal invective, trash talking and cheap vulgarity" is too much even for the fathers of direct mail attack ads.

"They lied," Mr. Trump said, more akin to (horrors!) Michael Moore than "even two Democratic nominees [who] declined" to put it so plainly. (That didn't work out so well for John Kerry, actually.)

This puts CHQ in a hell of a bind. They were supposed to have the anti-establishment angle all to themselves, but here comes a comic showman dissing anti-establishment guy, along with the elephants he rode in on. Let us refer back to Saint Ronnie, nodding to the "eleventh commandment," which, Rasley points out, "the Republican establishment likes to hide behind." Reagan was "tough on his opponents’ policies and record, but never made it personal" is the point. So that... gosh, after Trump wins the nomination, it's "going to take more than 'The Art of the Deal' to rebuild the Reagan coalition if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president."

Yes, and? Is this supposed to be advice for Trump? Hey buddy, just tone it down a little, wouldja? Somehow, I can't imagine that happening. (Of course, I wouldn't have imagined Jimmy Carter picking Trump either, opining on Trump v. Cruz, and pointed out that "Trump has proven already that he’s completely malleable. I don’t think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for.")

The Cruz-Trump bromance was fine while Ted was sucking up, but Trump is nothing if not a sore loser. That second place in Iowa really stung. Coalition be damned, Trump is running a third-party bid while feeding as best he can on the corpse of the Republican Party. (After the self-castration by the TEA Party and Mitch McConnell's "do nothing" Senate, the behemoth starved itself on spite rations.) Here's Trump expanding "liar, liar pants on fire" to Facebook screed length, in a RESPONSE TO THE LIES OF SENATOR CRUZ, running about four thousand likes and a thousand shares an hour.

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

Honored in the breach Permalink to this item

Tom von Alten photo, 2004

With most of 500 comments following Ross Douthat's glowing tribute to Scalia as a "conservative legal giant" to choose from, it seems the NYT picker and I like some of the same things. The nod to the "originalist" view which would make new rules for an election year anathema is chief among them. Ray Katz of Philadelphia:

"Ross must be aware that President Obama was democratically elected by the people and that nominating Justices to the Supreme Court is part of his responsibilities as outlined in Article II of the Constitution. Of course the Senate is free to oppose his nominee.

"But to ask the president to fail to do his job as mandated in the Constitution would violate both originalism and [textualism]. It would violate Justice Scalia's own judicial views."

And MPS, also from Philly:

"[H]istory may look less kindly upon his opinions over the years. He was a strict interpreter of the Constitution, except when he wasn't. Examples of this include Bush v Gore when he blocked the state's right to determine its votes as enshrined in the tenth amendment, and when he granted personhood to corporations that can spend money but have no possible way to vote, creating a legal fallacy. The issues before the Court are numerous and difficult, but clear thinking is required and to assume that enlightened men of the 18th Century had the final insight on these issues is to ignore the progress made in science and society."

As an antidote the cottage industry sprung up to make up facts in regard to the nomination of justices in election years, the New York Times provides a chart of the full history.

Bruce Allen Murphy takes a less ideological and more fact-based look at Scalia's tenure, and this "dead Consitution" idea he promoted.

"Almost without exception, Justice Scalia behaved as a “court of one” during his nearly 30 years on the bench. He was certain of the rectitude of his views and had little interest in compromising with his more moderate colleagues. As a result, he often wrote solo dissents, but his opinions are nonetheless memorable. He drove moderate-conservative justices away, calling Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s 1989 opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services “irrational,” “totally perverse” and “not to be believed.” He offended his early ally, Justice Anthony Kennedy, by belittling his 1992 majority opinion in the Lee v. Weisman school graduation prayer case as “psychology practiced by amateurs” and “incoherent.” He found it hard to muster a majority for his views from that point on."

(Murphy promotes the thesis of his recent book, Scalia: A Court of One.) Now comes the poetically ironic capper to his story, a shameless partisan leading the U.S. Senate, prepared to ignore the plain text of our founding document in favor a self-serving spin of the political roulette wheel come post-election 2017. Contrast Scalia's "sheer brilliance" with McConnell's naked hackery, and mourn the passing of an American original.

Valentine's Day, 2016 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mitch McConnell's climactic obstruction Permalink to this item

With the gauntlet thrown for the perfectly ridiculous notion that The American people should have get a say in the next Supreme Court justice by having Scalia's seat stay vacant for 11 months until after we elect a new president, we now watch to see if Mitch McConnell is serious about going through with a plan bolder than the one he had to make Obama a one-term president, which is to say making sure the Senate accomplishes next to nothing.

He might be reading Linda Hirshman's analysis in the Washington Post and doing his own arithmetic on court cases in progress, balanced against what he might imagine an Obama-appointed justice could do with a lifetime appointment.

The implied threat of stalemate might just have been to scare the president away from nominating anyone too liberal, but given Scalia's record, there is no way a replacement will not shift the court left. Dylan Matthews' shortlist for Obama includes someone he thinks judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassle would likey; the recently unanimously confirmed Sri Srinivasan; and a gal born in Viet Nam who went to UCLA Law School. (That last item seems more of a "diversity" factor than the other two at this point.)

Even without Obama's direct statement yesterday, there was precisely zero chance the president would concede McConnell's made-up asterisk for the Constitution and forgo a nomination (or two, or three, should the Senate vote against confirming the first, or second choice). I would also think that the American public would warm up the pitchforks and torches if McConnell really did try parliamentary maneuvers to put the process on hold until next January. One way for McConnell to walk back his premature notion would be to note that he said "should," and gosh, he was just sort of thinking out loud.

The fact that Senator Mike Lee of Utah was even more adamant, and serves on the Judiciary Committee doesn't amount to much, I don't think. Grassley's his own man, with his own legacy, and would not be interested in the Tea Party screwing it up. (Oh here's an idea; since Lee has already said he'd be happy to serve, Obama could just nominate him!)

Of course, Ted Cruz said something reliably stupid on the subject in the debate last night (Scalia = "hero," therefore we should wait), and could spend some time reading Dr. Seuss in the Senate again. But he'd have to take time off the campaign trail to do that and something tells me it would be even less funny the second time around.

Is this a great country or what Permalink to this item

Word is, the crowd was packed with establishment Republicans, which ought to be the party's right, right? And maybe this is its last-ditch shot at derailing the Donald Trump juggernaut, you can't blame them for trying. Along with booing the moderator for standing up for facts, the bridge too far that got the crowd boiling against Trump was... not the birther nonsense, not dissing John McCain's military service, not the Mexican rapists thing, not the ban on all Muslims coming into the country, not the phony baloney about thousands cheering 9/11, but just pointing out that that went down on George W. Bush's watch, and by the way, Jeb! is W's brother. The war in Iraq was based on a lie and it was a disaster.

Marco Rubio rallied to the Bush family, "on behalf of me and my family, I thank God all the time it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11, and not Al Gore," because... yeah, it doesn't have to make sense. God guided the Supreme Court in handing the 2000 election to Bush? And Al Gore would not have... invaded Iraq? And ok, sure, Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance (even though he did try). Al Gore served honorably in the Army and actually went to Viet Nam, not that Republican candidates want to get into a discussion of that sort of thing. No, that chip shot from Rubio was just the kid on the outside of the fight, looking on, throwing in some verbal jabs for the side the crowd seems to be favoring.

"There were no weapons of mass destruction," Trump said. [Booo.]

"So here's the deal," Jeb! retorted. "I'm sick and tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problems that he's had." [Yaaay.] And frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It's blood sport for him, and I'm glad he's happy about it. But I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive, in my mind. [Yaaay.] While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did." [Yaaaay. Ding! ]

Trump came back: "The World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign. Remember that?" [Booo.]

Yeah, nobody wants to remember that, even as we must never forget, and use it in political campaigns, senselessly.

Chronicle of an occupation Permalink to this item

The Oregonian assembles the whole story, with a quick preamble, mid-December and then almost day by day from Jan. 1 through through Feb. 11 in Harney Co., with links in every entry. Must be book length by the time you expand all that.

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

Food fight Permalink to this item

Did they really have the Republican debate at "The Peace Center"?! That's rich. The candidates who competed to see who could pound the drums of war the hardest, perhaps to make up for their lack of military service. They will bomb more people, harder, and more thoroughly than we have been doing for the last... 20 years or so.

Donald Trump is a really disgusting person, I have to say. "Excuse me," he says at the least interruption, and fires past his time limits, interrupts everyone else with impunity. He could actually make Ted Cruz look good.

CBS needs to have a mute button for each (and all) the podiums. Dayum, I thought being President would be a bad job, but moderating a Republican debate looks like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad job.

John Dickerson: "We're in danger of driving this into the dirt."

It's more than "danger." Not even Gentle Ben can turn this ship around (but nice of him to try).

When a crowd boos the moderator for wanting to get facts straight, there's just no upside. (And by the way, contrary to Ted Cruz's counterfactual insistence, Anthony Kennedy was nominated in 1987 and confirmed in 1988.)

What's next for the SCOTUS Permalink to this item

Imagine the conservative heads exploding if the President had said or done anything—a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g—political after Antonin Scalia died in regard to his appointment. Of course, he did no such thing. In a live statement from Ranch Mirage, California at 5:45 PST, Obama said a few, well-chosen words of condolence to his family, and praise for the Supreme Court Justice, and noted that he would of course do his job to nominate a successor, "in due time."

That was after Republicans from bottom to top had quickly insisted that no way they're going to let Obama appoint a replacement to the Supreme Court. ThinkProgress noted that "the longest it has ever taken to confirm a Supreme Court nominee is 125 days. Obama has 361 days left in office." Which is some dodgy calendar arithmetic, given that it's February 13, and we're planning for an inauguration on January 20, 2017, but still. 340-some days.

No less than the Senate Majority Leader saw fit to weigh in, tagging a note onto his own condolences to say that "the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice," for the first time, uh, never. But since you asked, let me just say that President Obama should of course nominate Scalia's successor and the U.S. Senate should proceed with its Constitutional duty to confirm (or reject) the nominee as well.

As Minority Leader Harry Reid said, failing to do so would be a "shameful abdication" of the Senate's role, except that "abdication" isn't quite right. It would be shameful usurpation of a role that it does not have.

Cruelest month on the campaign trail Permalink to this item

Fallen tributes

Madeleine Albright expands upon her undiplomatic moment, rather brilliantly. It was an old line to her, "first used almost 25 years ago," but to a new generation, in a different world, and in campaign combat that couldn't help obscure the still-relevant context:

"Despite decades of progress, women still make less money than men for equivalent work. Paid family leave remains an elusive dream. Sexual abuse against women continues to plague our communities. And many politicians still act as though the top threat to our national security is Planned Parenthood."

Kudos to Frank Bruni for avoiding the word "oleaginous" in his column about Ted Cruz. It's irresistably apt, but just like "clown car," the punch does wear off. (Also, nobody likes margarine in their punch.) With a voice "ripe with self-regard," "pompsity's plum tomato," "preternaturally slick," "slippery," slithering, "more guile, more gall, more money and a better organization" than the 2012 Iowa winner (Rick Santorum, if you've forgotten him already), Cruz "won Iowa with a wicked stew of Bible thumping and mischief." Also, this happened:

"Christie’s last-gasp strategy is to turn Rubio into a limp, soggy chew toy, and the New Jersey governor was all jaws at the debate, where he dismissed Rubio as a jejune purveyor of pretty but practiced lines."

Unlike He Who Must Not Be Named, it is quite likely that Rubio's gaffish imitation of a skipping record could be the end of his quest.

I mentioned Frank Rich's latest National Circus previously, and you should have read it by now, but there was that one observation about "the GOP Establishment's central problem."

Most of the big money on its side is being spent on the circular firing squad that’s crippling its own candidates. Besides, you can’t fight something with nothing. Who is its candidate to take down Trump? Jeb!? The Times-endorsed John Kasich? ... None of these guys are speaking the same language as a Republican base that has no problem with a candidate wielding the word pussy and that until recently preferred Ben Carson, a man who literally cannot find his way on to a debate stage, to all of the Establishment alternatives.

Nobody here but us chickens Permalink to this item

It's not new, but the scale is bigger than ever. Here's Sonia Shah's boots-on-the-ground research for her book due out next week, Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond paints the scene, and excerpted for last week's NY Times Sunday Review. The print title was simpler: Is Bird Flu Back? Online, it's the recipe for What You Get When You Mix Chickens, China and Climate Change.

"The poultry enclosures are open to the air. Droppings from the birds in cages as well as the birds flying overhead coat the floor. Stony-faced women with shovels push the mess into reeking, shoulder-height heaps of wet mush. Any virus that lurks in those piles can easily spread to the birds and the people who tend them. Up to 10 percent of poultry workers in Hong Kong, a study has found, have been exposed to bird flu. A fine dust of desiccated bird waste permeates the air. It settles on the leaves of the workers’ makeshift vegetable plots behind the cages and on the window panes of their nearby flats."

It seems the Chinese "prefer to buy their chickens while they’re still clucking," and thus create "a wealth of opportunities for new viral strains to spread and adapt to human bodies."

"Rather than visiting the sterile frozen-food aisles of grocery stores, shoppers crowd into poultry markets, exposing themselves to live birds and their viral-laden waste. And to serve the markets, more birds travel from farms into towns and cities, broadcasting viruses along the way."

ICYMI (I did, last winter, spring, and summer), as best we've tracked it down, migrating birds picked up a "highly virulent avian influenza" from a poultry farm in Asia, took it to Siberia and Beringia for the breeding season and passed it along to other birds who brought it down to the Pacific Northwest, "infecting wild and domesticated birds along the way and igniting the epidemic." Epidemic?

"From December 2014 to last June, more than 48 million domesticated poultry in 21 states were slaughtered, the majority in waterfowl-rich Minnesota and Iowa, in what the Department of Agriculture called the worst animal disease epidemic in United States history. By the time it ended, a 12-foot-wide ridge of bird carcasses from a single farm in Iowa stretched more than six miles."

That's gross and mind-boggling, and more miles of bird carcasses than I'd like to see, but... less than 1/6th of a bird per capita, after all. How big is the poultry industry? Somewhere in the neighborhood of eight and a half or nine billion birds in 2014, or about 27 for each man, woman and child in the country. For that year, the USDA NASS says there were 104,519,000 "lost," including all those "rendered, died, destroyed, composted, or disappeared for any reason except sold during the 12-month period." The massive slaughter (coming just after the 2014 tally) was about half of one percent of the annual production in the U.S.

The online story corrects an "outdated reference to Tyson Foods’ expansion plans in China" that was put in print. "In 2014, the company indefinitely suspended plans to double production in China."

It's almost enough to make you go get a flu shot.

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

Can't make this up Permalink to this item

Oh, never mind the fund-raising for the Cliven D. Bundy Legal Defense Fund: sez here he wants the Court to appoint one of them free ones. The assistant federal public defender appointed to represent him "said his office couldn't continue to represent him because it represents others in the case," he should've showed up sooner!

"U.S. Magistrate Judge Janice M. Stewart directed Bundy to present a financial affidavit to the court before a court-appointed attorney could be assigned.

"'The court only appoints counsel for those who can't afford an attorney,' Stewart said."

In any event, he needs his b.p. medication, running 188/122 when he arrived at the jail in downtown Portland. (We don't usually get that statistic with arrest reports, but I'm guessing being arrested often leads to high blood pressure.)

It's a wrap Permalink to this item

Three NY Times reporters combined for the Oregon standoff ends wrap-up, and it makes me appreciate the objective distance of good journalism. The Pulitzers are going to go to reporters closer to the scene (I assume), but this is good, and tidy, and with a nod to new media, includes an embedded video with a snippet of yesterday's press conference, with the chance to hear from the FBI Special Agent in Charge, and the Harney Co. Sheriff.

"From the start, the Malheur standoff had a foot firmly planted in unfiltered live media, bypassing mainstream journalists, whom the protesters called tools of the government. Pete Santilli, who has an online talk show, was a frequent presence, interviewing and supporting the occupiers on his YouTube channel; he is among the jailed. Mr. Fry live streamed videos of the occupation and posted them online, while other protesters gave interviews on talk radio.

"The occupiers repeatedly called on people from around the country to join them at the refuge. But the mass movement they hoped for never materialized. Critics said the protesters relied on a strained reading of the Constitution that the courts have rejected. And many experts argued that, in fact, ranchers — along with loggers, miners and others — get the use of federal land at bargain prices, heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

"But Western lands experts and supporters of the occupation’s goals said that however quietly the standoff ended, and however garbled its message was at times, the deeper meaning will continue to resonate, because the occupiers in some ways reframed one of the nation’s oldest and thorniest arguments. The question of who should control land in the West..."

While the FBI sorts out the left-over trash and evidence at the refuge, the rest of us can try to sort out the players, with help from High Country News, in the form of an interactive graphic connecting the people, organizations and movements, and events. Idaho's junior wing-nut legislators who took a day off from her back-bench legislating to drive over to Burns yesterday, Reps. Heather Scott and Judy Boyle, did not make the gray lady, but Scott did win mention from HCN, for her affection for the Land Transfer Movement and for the protest over a veteran's competence and gun rights in Priest River (the "Gun Grab"). (They need to update it to link Scott and Malheur.) Spokane Valley's Washington state representative topped that easily, with links to Richard Mack's Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, Agenda 21, the Land Transfer Movement, and Oath Keepers, and attendance at the 2014 Bundyville standoff, and now Malheur.

"If we used Cliven as a metric, Cliven pressed his luck."
Sam Culper, editor of Forward Observer, on the Patriot Report

Scott and Boyle may be totally out of their league, but the serious-talking heads of the movement love their presence to lend credibility, never mind that they went AWOL to be there, and were nothing more than in the way while law enforcement carried out its work. (Nevada's assemblywoman Michele Fiore helped talk the last holdouts down, and out, but she did that by telephone, and the NV assembly isn't in session.)

Jason Van Tatenhove's Special Report What we do and do not know regarding Events in Oregon Epsiode 3.5 on Revolution Radio is an interesting listen, with Stewart Rhodes, founder and president of Oath Keepers allowed to roam at will. Rhodes was not surprised to see Cliven Bundy rounded up, what with declaring himself in charge, telling the holdouts to hang in there, and mounting a charge to PDX and... getting hisself arrested like that. Rhodes gives props to Fiore, and Matt Shea (why, it's not clear; just being there and saying Patriot stuff?)

JVT: Do you think it could be a test to see how the American people react, if they start pulling in Patriots and arresting them?

Rhodes: Well I can tell you right now, it won't [laughs], it won't go very well. I think they've realized that, hopefully the adults in the room realized that, you know ..."

And so on. Rhodes has a high opinion of his fellow travelers, never mind the facts soon to be collected into evidence out of the trashed HQ at the Malheur refuge. He said "I never put anything past the stupidity of man," just after he's recounted the stupidity of Ammon, Ryan and Cliven Bundy handing their heads to the FBI on a platter (as he put it). But camo and a well-oiled weapon are the vaccine against stupidity? Remember Alexander Solzhenitsyn and The Gulag Archipelago people. He thinks "we've learned that lesson," which is... to fight back, if "they" try mass arresting Patriots and all. The good news is that Rhodes doesn't think "it's spun up and about to come down. But if it does, it does, you deal with it."

Rhodes noted that "[retired] Sheriff [Denny] Peyman was with us at Bundy Ranch, and we flew him in uh along with other a couple of other Sheriffs for the express purpose of making it clear to, to the uh feds that this is not just your cut and dry, normal, you know, standoff, with people they could marginalize."

"You have active duty legislators, those coming from all over the west. We had Sheriffs coming in, showing their support. And that was done to create that doubt in their mind, at a political element to it, and a pretty serious, um, credibility element to it. So, credibility is the coin of the realm. And one of the things we talked to the lawyer about in the last phone call we had with him, was the utility of using a Sheriff and pickin', pickin' a county with a strong Sheriff. And so I think going forward, if ever you're going to go and, and choose a fight, and pick a place to go make a stand, I think you need some critical, uh, lessons learned from this is, one, do it in a county with a Constitutional Sheriff. I mean, this is what kind of drove me nuts about, with with Ammon. He could've done that anywhere he wanted to. He did, he didn't, he had the chance to choose his ground. Once the Hammonds rejected his assistance, there's no need to stay in Harney County. He could've gone to another county. I think for people who are interested in sticking a thumb in Leviathan's eye in the future, do it in a county with a Constitutional Sheriff..."

Also, if you want to attract a busload of armed, idiot wingnuts to your town, by all means, vote yourself up one of them there Consteetooshunal Sheriffs, with "max credibility." Number two on Rhodes' list is to "do it in defense of an actual person, a sympathetic person that you're defending. Bundy Ranch itself was an example of that...." And Rhodes imagines, in his air-brushed, Patriotic history that the Hammonds were "very sympathetic" figures.

Anyhoo, the Bundys had to up and go off the reservation, and now look where they are. "Continuing to cause problems" sort of gets the FBI's attention after a while, and once you're arrested, and have to go before a Judge, well, what looks good from your front porch out into the dry sunshine of the Nevada desert starts to look just plain stupid and illegal.

Rhodes wanted to talk about "resistance points," and said that for the cases in process, "we need to be gearin' up for jury nullification." To that end, he's already been talking to one of the founders of the Fully Informed Jury Association. "FIJA" is an important step going forward.

"If you hang a couple juries—all it takes is one juror to hang a federal jury—um, that will stymie and stall the, you know, the strategy and the coups-counting on the side of the government, making, making an example of these guys."

Also, send money for a defense fund... for a rather large (and still growing) number of defendants who are going to need a ton of good lawyering. The "conspiracy to impede" statute from back in the day that counting coups was a thing, is "very broad" and could be used against... the likes of Rhodes himself. Rhodes said he thought Pete Santilli is a "jackass," but also "an independent journalist" and so let's make this about the First Amendment.

I imagine some of the funds raised "from donors across the country" could be used to bring Rhodes in as an expert witness? If that happens, the prosecutor might like to hear Rhodes' bigger picture view, as captured in the online broadcast:

"This brings back the point of 'end states' ... Whatever happens, the End State is what matters. We all know that the economy is, is basically a zombie economy. The end state is going to be an economic collapse and out of that, will [be] the end state of, you know, social disruption, feed [sic] scarcity, all things you'd expect in an economic collapse. So... think about end states. And think about what you're going to need during that kind of trouble. You're gonna need local security, you're gonna need food, you're gonna need infrastructure."

Back to the basics!

"Are you training? Do you have local security and support, mutual aid? And that washes over into, well, what if they do start going after everybody. Well hey, if you're squared away and you know there's [unintelligible] 18 on your fire team, your squad, and you squared away your own local intelligence team, um, you've got some mutual support in your community, that answers that question right there. You can do the counerpart of what happened in Idaho, when the VA came for [sic] that one veteran's guns, all his neighbors got together and said 'no you don't' and his Sheriff was on his side and so was his state legislator. So basically, they built community there, ok?

"Like Pete says, it's in 'meat space.' That's what's gonna count. So no matter what happens—you can war-game all day long about you know worst case scenarios, but they are, they have the same requirements for you to weather through them. You gotta have local security, you gotta have intelligence, you gotta have food, [unintelligible], medicine, you gotta have all those. Basically, you gotta have the Militia which we don't have anymore. So, and that's our End Goal is to get back to the True Militia ... of the people, well-regulated, well-organized, well-trained and equipped. That's our end state. That's our desired end state. So if we want to walk from here to there, and the question is, will we get there in time? And we don't know. But we're certainly going to be better off if we continue to make those critical changes. Too much time is spent wringing hands about the latest travesty online and not enough on getting organized."

For his part, Culper advises y'all who have indictments on you to become "pillars of the community," which you might want to start working on before-hand, rather than after you're in jail. Because...

"Your neighbors are you absolute, uh, worst counter-intelligence threat, or, they're, they're your best intelligence collection assets."

Rhodes likes the idea of having "QRFs," Quick Reaction Forces, to get out there and defend schools... after a shooting? During a shooting? 24/7, before shootings? To build "good will" across the country. Also, just in case ISIS attacks.

Personally, I'm rather hoping Rhodes is right that it hasn't "spun up and about to come down," but should that come to pass, I'm thinking a subscription to Mother Earth News would be a more useful thing to have then a stockpile of weapons and ammo. Buy one for your neighbors, too.

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