What I will defend here is the good sense and the good reputation of the Oregonian occupiers. It was not ideological background that elicited this opinion, because I hail, or once did, from unsympathetic quarters, the political left. I still admire many sentiments that fire the liberal soul and the “conscience of a liberal” but I have repudiated most political divisions as ‘divide-and-conquer’ strategies of the corporate-state. I have also repudiated Paul Krugman and question either his conscience or his good economic sense.
In the case of the Oregon standoff, before slowly and cautiously aligning with Ammon Bundy, I recognized the “villain” at work, the corporate-state. It is the same imperial beast that is destroying Syria, and many countries before that. A further personal note: I did a good chunk of my dissertation research in Syria, and it shames me to know, as readers of VT well know, that my tax dollars are funding terrorism. These are destroying the same buildings I studied in Aleppo, and the lives of the people that hosted me. (I maintain a weekend blog, CaravansarayPosts, about the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict, though I write these days more about Oregon).
Well, let’s say we do indeed recognize the heavy footprint of the military-industrial-corporate state both in the American West and in the Middle East, and can track it back to the recessed penthouse of its financial control. Still, enemies of my enemy are not necessarily my friends.
In Oregon, I was swayed by the unpracticed but educated eloquence of Ammon Bundy and several other leaders. I was impressed even more as their daily practice confirmed and fulfilled their words. I am further encouraged by Bundy’s ability to awaken in those who actually listen to him a sense of the deeper values needed to make our society healthy again. For one, his occupation is based on the moral need to ponder a distinction between ‘laws’ and ‘codes and regulations’ which the corporate-state has used to its advantage, and our disempowerment.
At the same time, Bundy questions whether the extortionist codes and regulations that sent the Hammonds to jail, twice for the same crime (“double jeopardy”) are Constitutional at all. This is the document whose mention got a reporter kicked out of Judge Grasty’s meeting. It is hardly perfect, but would clean up a great deal of the criminal activity perpetrated these days by the various levels of government. In the case of the Oregon stand-off most federal, state, and county distinctions have become quite evidently spurious. I would like to ground the discourse even more ‘deeply’ than the Constitution, by documenting its historical corruption to begin with, then re-thinking it in terms of Common Law and Natural Law — but this is not the time to go there.
Bundy’s move to occupy the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, key headquarters for federal land-grabbing in the area, came when all legal resources had been exhausted at every level — as well as the meager common sense of ‘officials’ involved. Though initially criticized for the ‘illegal’ occupation by other militia leaders, Bundy’s strategy is revealing itself to be very well thought out. It also had unexpected (or perhaps expected) revelations, like the ratshitty regard the Feds have for Paiute artifacts.
Let me thrust this discussion back to the global stage momentarily. Like Putin, Bundy has considered both his words and principles very carefully. He has preceded dramatic, perhaps pivotal, but actually quite moderate action, with well-reasoned arguments. Most importantly, he has grounded his actions and his words on documents and principles held by a consensus wide enough to supersede the authority of the antagonist. This happens to be one and the same as Putin’s, ie, USA.Inc (with many aliases), an international consortium of interests headquartered in DC. Both the US Constitution invoked by Bundy and the international law and UN Charter by Putin at the UN and Valdai are sufficient to right numerous wrongs (but not all).
Imperfect and corrupted though these documents, justifications, and precedents may be, they are pretty plainly the nearest and most solid stepping-stones presenting themselves within these rushing waters. We don’t have to stop there. But even for this first step to be taken, the feds must enter into negotiation on the basis of those documents and principles it supposedly stands for. It won’t even go that far, so far.
Of course, USA,Inc will not enter negotiations to give back some of the assets they have stolen unless they are forced to. We may ask, why does their greed seem so boundless? That remains to be ascertained. The ramping up of federal land transfers may aim to service a similarly “public” debt through various mostly illicit means, but more likely, the acquisition of private lands for “public” use serves mainly in the interests of power-trading and for the profit of private foundations and corporations. Indeed, evidence strongly suggests the Feds were after gold on the Bundy property and uranium on the Hammonds and we know that they regularly used ‘cruel and unusual’ tactics to force cheap sales. Both of the ore sources may have been destined for ‘foreign’ consumption. Recently, it has been charged that the Hammond uranium was already tagged for Russian control, with complicity of the Clinton Foundation. (They are always promising stuff they don’t yet own.)
Bundy is much more aware of the way ‘power’ really works than the good-hearted left-wing lovers of the environment that have shown up to protest at Malheur. These simple souls understand little of what “public” land is supposed to mean, and regard it mainly as an upper-middle class playground. Bundy knows the wider national implications of his move because he understands something of the wider principles upon which it rests; he is not just living the “now”. Putin knew it was now or never when he stated his platform at the UN in September and began bombing the armies of the CIAliphate a week later. Bundy knows that the events in Harney County, as distant as Syria to most Americans, may well be a pivot too, one that will ‘determine’ whether the future will be that of a good ol’ Constitutional US of A, or else a further entrenchment, now almost complete, of USA.Inc., the ‘multi-national’ corporate-state whose 21st century raison d’être, evidence suggests, is simply asset-stripping.
Leftists are usually willing to admit that a state apparatus, heavily corporatized, is responsible for all sorts of crimes overseas, but somehow the same parties look ‘innocent’ and ‘snowy-white’ when facing off against rural whites or ranchers. In fact, the ‘hostile takeovers’ work to the same ends, and the same kind of media vilifications are employed. Oregon is not yet Anbar province, but don’t put it past them. Fortress FBI, the heavily militarized outpost at the airport of Harney County, has already been implicated in false flag events in Burns. Just as much as Bundy’s reasonable actions and balanced words, the FBI’s clumsy heavy foot is turning the county incrementally to support the occupiers, if not the occupation per se.
I address especially the audience I know best, the left, because it is the left that is least likely to give the ranchers a fair shake. In these times, treacherous on every scale, our conventional divisions and identities should be recognized as ‘handles’ that the corporations and the corporate-state use to work their ends, not ours. The crucial and most pertinent difference is really “us” and “them” where “us” is “people” and “them” is the soulless machine of the corporate-state and the soulless “legal person” of the corporation (which Islam had the good sense to de-legitimate.)
But Madison Avenue and Hollywood, like Langley and DC, have long controlled massmedia, have long shaped the contours of our conventional “identities,” and have long controlled the “information flow” from the penthouse down to those “identities” below. Half the information is suppressed, the other half is distributed equally in quarters ‘left’ and ‘right’. Never the twain shall meet and both sides are thereby dumbed-down. (I now prefer purple to blue or red states – but a purple made up of the most intriguing and beautiful patterns of color distribution upon closer analysis).
It will be easier for you, my left-wing audience, to see the sense in Bundy’s arguments and motives if you have begun to smell the stench arising from two-party politics, and sensed the compartmentalization of information that makes up the meager fragments of truth that our mass media are permitted to distribute. (Let us leave misinformation aside for the moment.) Left side, right side: all are owned by the same people, as Rupert Murdoch’s 10% share in the supposedly hip, lefty, VICENews illustrates. The Gawker is a similar source of nihilistic faddishness, as we have already seen. Tony Hall’s VT article on the TWA false flag of 1996, cited earlier, makes it plain the Gawker was gawking blindly as early as the 20th century.
The Basic Divisions, the Main Sides of the Stand-Off, Recent Events
What follows is an introduction to the Oregon standoff as of Monday, January 25: I will give no background from before the start of the occupation, but I will link to several sources that do. In the following I want mainly to bring the reader quickly up to speed.
Bundy’s group now is called the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom (C4CF). They have occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and converted it to the Harney County Resource Center. The PPN (Pacific Patriots Network) is a coalition of militia from five Western states. It is led by Brandon Curtiss, leader of the Idaho 3%’ers (iii%’ers). The PPN does not support the occupation, per se, but intends to form a “buffer zone” around the C4CF in hopes of staving off another Waco. They have recently been joined by those Oathkeepers who have responded to Stewart Rhodes call for assistance. Rhodes, among the most influential of US militia leaders, initially was vocal about his disagreement with Bundy’s move; he has not retracted his position in this regard, but the shift to Bundy’s side is a very significant change over the last week.
The ‘loyalists,’ the Feds, are not just federal but Federal, State, and County. The US Attorney Amanda Marshal, the FBI, the governor, County Commissioner/Judge Steve Grasty, and the sheriff are the main faces of the corporate-state in Harland County. These have operated like a well-oiled machine, using government officialdom, profit-making corporations, and nefarious dealings between the two, to work their wiles. If the BLM was the main source of ‘federal overreach’, the principle federal antagonist ‘on-the-ground’ these days is the FBI (Federal Bureau of Idiots, judging by their behavior here.)
We need to take into account town and rural differences, since many employees of the BLM (Bureau of Land Mismanagement) and other federal agencies under the Department of Interior, live in Burns, and are inclined to support their employers, while the ranchers constitute a majority of the negatively-affected population.
Among the other pertinent groups involved are the Paiute, the most important tribal nation in the vicinity. Their spokesperson, Charlotte Rodrique, has implicitly supported the Feds so far. This may be changing as well. The Paiute too have their BLM connections, but sooner or later will recognize that their best interests lie with the occupiers, who have extended their hands from day one.
At this stage, events are moving steadily, thankfully not precipitously. Most noteworthy, most detectable, is that the general sentiment of the Burns townsfolk seems to be moving towards Bundy. This is perhaps attributable to the Fire Chief’s abrupt and dramatic resignation in the face of Judge/County Commissioner Steve Grasty’s patent misconduct, not to say corruption. The FBI was strongly implicated in false flag operations in Burns during the same episode.
The several main components of the “government opposition,” Federal, State, and County, in theory given some autonomy, stand as united as reigning royalty and loyal fiefdoms. These seem but bureaucratic distinctions in 21st century USA.Inc, each with a job to do. Especially, the FBI now serves as the Feds battering ram on the front lines. Brandon Curtiss presented his Articles of Resolution to the FBI on behalf of the federal government.
As video of the PPN presentation of the Articles of Resolution to the FBI compound shows, its occupation of the airport is frighteningly more militarized than the Bundy’s occupation of the Refuge. Further, the C4CF is not really a militia, but an informal group that came together with a highly-defined set of limited, but reasonable and just purposes. This likely would be dissolved once these purposes are met. It occupied the vacant Refuge without a struggle or violence and it took no prisoners (as did the 1968 Alcatraz occupation, quite temporarily, if I am not mistaken).
They all want to go back home, even the FBI. But things are moving in the opposite direction. In this Friday Jan 22 update, Brandon Curtiss of the PPN tells of 200 more FBI vehicles which had arrived over the day. He also says that new revelations about Judge Grasty shall be forthcoming, and reports the beginning of an on-line effort to photograph and track the undercover FBI agents known to be lurking in Burns and through the county. The daily build-up of FBI resources is matched by that the growing number of Bundy supporters appearing at Malheur, and the adherence of the Oathkeepers to the PPN’s buffer zone.
The “supporters” do not all support the same things, though they have some well-defined principles in common, and a general respect for each other. Though the PPN and Oathkeepers do not support the occupation itself, they are more worried, as we all should be, about trigger-happy FBI, or perhaps infiltrators among the Bundy group.
The Bundys and even their semi-supporters agree on several things, which were outlined in the Articles of Resolution presented by Brandon Curtiss of the PPN (and Idaho 3%’ers) to Bundy and to the FBI (as representing the federal government.) The three ‘requests’ on this document were stated last time. Briefly, they agree that the Hammonds were given a raw deal and that Judge Grasty and others should be criminally investigated for the suppression of evidence and other kinds of prosecutorial misconduct in the Hammond case. The third and last of the Articles of Resolution, phrased as ‘talking points’ for further discussion and ‘requests,’ also seems to reflect a common point of view: it demands that the federal land be granted to the county to be managed and administered by the people of the county and the Paiute. (I still need to find out more about the pertinent chronologies and geographies.)
My first letter may have misled the reader. As Tony pointed out, the Paiute can’t be called ‘claimants’; that was a poor choice of words. In fact, I did not sufficiently make clear that the Articles of Resolution is a PPN document, so far unsigned by any of the parties involved as far as I know.
It was presented by Brandon Curtiss, leader of the Idaho 3%’ers and the PPN – itself a coalition of the militias of five Western states — to Bundy and to the Feds, or rather to the FBI as representing the Feds. The PPN, like the 3%’ers and the Oathkeepers (Stewart Rhodes) were united in opposing the Bundy occupation, for a variety of weak reasons, imho, and they remain opposed in theory, but the Oathkeepers have begun to join the PPN in Harney County. Much movement now is occuring at the Resource Center and in the formation of a “no free Waco” buffer zone between the FBI and the Bundy group. Perhaps we should call that a “Waco-free” zone.
The ability of the militia groups to state their differences, yet work together according to some commonly agreed-upon principles, is evidence of the strength of this ‘traditional’ model of civilizational law and decency. Sadly, the Feds are a caricature of a post-modern, post-reality form of ever-arbitrary discourse. Kerry says one thing in Moscow, the opposite as soon as he hits the tarmac in DC. The Feds spend billions convincing hearts and minds that the US represents “democracy” but will not even take up a discussion of the pertinence of Constitutional principles in the Hammond case or examine the patent corruption in its midst.
Constitutionality is but the first layer of the onion we will have to unwrap, through actions as much as words, but the feds refuse to even start the process of discussion, asserting authority without reason. This is why Bundy felt it was time for a revolutionary action. Often cited in these circles is the right to rebel against systematically oppressive government. Given true judicial independence, and honest government, the Hammond travesty could have been corrected long ago. These beleaguered ranchers did not want to be martyrs for a cause, but the cause has swept them up. And now that it has, a greater good may be done.
We will require expert and extended discussion of constitutional law, common law, and natural law in order to restore a just balance. But now the task principally is to get a discussion going –between the wronged parties in this county, this country, and ultimately from around the world. Hopefully this will lead to a discussion between some of these parties on the one side and the USGov on the other. No doubt there are many good people enslaved in the Halls of Mordor. But so far only the Bundy side wants to talk. The feds, meaning mainly the FBI, are mostly mum. Not only are they mostly silent, but they have done their best to silence Bundy as well.
To be fair, after a preliminary phone contact, the FBI offered to give Bundy a ‘talking-to‘ — but only in private, with no media present. He walked out, as he damn well should. Ammon Bundy talks about this episode in this video, filmed by Pete Santilli, the Cincinnati-based youtube showman, occasional blowhard, and perhaps a bit of a provocateur. Santilli finds a scared-shitless FBI agent guarding the meeting that never happened, and upbraids him mercilessly for not accepting a pocket Constitution.
The feds’ media supporters, mostly on the left, may decry USGov’s predatory actions overseas but regularly applaud them here. Their ideological corpus callosum has been severed; their brain’s hemispheres float off in separate spaces. Knowing they have ‘good hearts’, their command of legal and constitutional principle remains meager. A group of protestors at Malheur seemed only to know the word “public” means I can go skiing there, they think it means “mine,” at least if they belong to that class of society with the means to get there.
Most crucially, much left-wing critique and commentary seems unable to make the distinction between “codes and regulations” and “law”, or even what’s right and wrong in the case of the federal government’s terrorist tactics with the Hammonds. It must be said that Stewart Rhodes/Oathkeeper’s initial rejection of the Bundy occupation also rested on a baseless respect for ‘regulations’ that have no ethical or environment sense behind them.
The left-wing media that attacks Bundy on mendacious grounds of ‘racism,’ of performing his own land grab in the interests of rich ranchers alone, or of simple-minded dedication to a moldy old document, demonstrate their own simple-mindedness, if not duplicity. In their opposition to Bundy, they implicitly support a set of federal, state and county officials that have flagrantly violated the law, withheld evidence (especially witness testimony, in the Hammond case), and tortured that poor family for decades.
The media on all sides seems to neglect the apparent criminal intent of the federal land-grab: to get to the uranium determined to be on the Hammond property, but to get it pennies on the dollar as, according to Ammon Bundy, they have already acquired 32 ranches (and counting) for pennies on the dime after first cutting off water supplies, then flooding the ranches to drive prices down and the owners out.
The the center of events, the Malheur Wildlife Refuge Center has been converted by the C4CF to a “Harney County Resource Center”. They occupied this site, Bundy says, because it was the headquarters for the land-grabbing activities of the federal government in the area. The documents and records held there hopefully will expose further the criminal activities that have made the BLM the area’s biggest boss. Here is a video by Levoy Finicum of the C4CF, explaining something of the background of the Wildlife Refuge, and its conversion to the Harney County Resource Center.
In the video linked already in my first post, the C4CF’s LeVoy Finicum and Blaine Cooper exposed the Refuge Center’s neglect of Paiute artifacts. Yesterday, “Shirley Warren, of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon, stopped by in an unofficial capacity to view the condition of the improperly stored Native American artifacts and was satisfied the Citizens for Constitutional Freedom were indeed preserving the status quo condition of the artifacts as the government had left them.” On the other side, the Feds continue to harass the ranchers, Finicum and Cooper in particular.
These rancher and patriot groups are highly diverse, and it is good we know their consistency, or lack thereof, if we want to assess their prospects for success, or even discuss which next steps are most favorable for us all. In the next posting, I will look more closely at some of this variety. Bundy is not the only well-spoken leader. I will introduce several others from the C4CF and link to several interviews with Brandon Curtiss, leader of the PPN, as well as to his exchange with the FBI in which he delivered the Articles of Resolution. This followed a very interesting discussion that began with the FBI sentry’s “get the fuck outa here.” Ahhhh… finally some dialogue!
However, the C4CF, the occupying group led by Ammon Bundy, is itself a motley bunch, with some very suspicious characters in its midst. Thankfully, so far, cool heads command the most prominent positions. I will give a run-down on some personalities and we will have to note that the group includes/included suspect characters. One is Pete Santilli, the self-appointed documentarian of the movement (we are thankful for that service however.) The most egregious is Jon Ritzheimer, a reputed accomplice of Zio-nazi Pamela Geller in the Garland, Texas “Desecrate Muhammad” scribbling contest. For evident reasons, Bundy cannot kick anyone out for past behavior, but we may hope he quickly will tighten down if trouble arises from the several loose nuts on that vehicle gaining daily in size and momentum.
And finally, for some comic relief, there is this fellow from Malheur who took a Parks Services vehicle into town for some groceries and got arrested.