Commentary Uncategorized

Tit For Tat in Post-Insurrection America

I spent some time reading about DC Police Officer Michael Fanone, who is currently being feted and fried by the hype machine, most recently with an article in Newsweek Magazine which, I have to admit, I was surprised to find still doddering along, continuing to enrich the lives of those trapped in the waiting rooms of doctors, dentists, and tire stores across America.

More notable, at least to me, than the predictable hero-making redemption story are the reactions I’ve seen to this article on social media–a lot of well-earned sympathy and respect for Fanone’s obvious bravery and sacrifice spiced with resentment for the hook of the story: Fanone voted for Trump, is deeply conservative, and yet, this happened to him! Oh, dear. I’m sorry, of course, but I can’t really navigate my way to the point where we’re surprised that a howling, baying, hopped-up-on-hate mob of violent traitors, gleeful seditionists, and other assorted enemies of the state–many of them literally waving the flag of a defeated, foreign enemy (The Confederacy stopped being American the moment they seceded)–decided to attack the very heart of our (not their) nation, was not scrupulously selective in venting their pent up anger. Of course Fanone was set upon. He was in the way of the mob, and whatever catharsis they sought for their imaginary grievances.

What surprises me more is the vitriolic counter-hate directed at Fanone and other victims, simply because they voted “the wrong way.” A substantial minority embrace the “he voted for Trump, he deserved everything he got. I contend that he did not deserve any of it. It is both churlish and petty to break what happened down to a matter of good versus evil.

Nobody has more contempt for Trump and all things Trump related than I do, but a lot of the soft-minded yahoos who supported him did so after decades of targeted Republican conditioning–they’re dupes, rubes, and ignorant vessels saturated with programmed hate and lies. In a way, (and here’s where I get myself in trouble) they are just as much victims as anyone else–their obtuse fears and resentments twisted into a tapestry of, well, fear and resentment by the cynical right.

Of course, I respect them like I respect the average German citizens of the Nazi era, which is to say not at all. Ignorance is not an excuse. In a democracy, it is incumbent upon us all to remain informed and to question authority. As much as it irks me, we need to draw a line of distinction between the slow-witted and deeply misguided souls who, for whatever reasons–fear, mostly; fear of loss, fear of insignificance, fear of the other and the unknown– chose to vote for a vile candidate, and those who used Trumps sociopathic, self-serving, and utterly reprehensible rhetoric as an excuse to indulge in their own bitter, destructive, and base impulses.

I’ll be the first to admit that I like to see idiots pay the price for their bad behavior, but it happens far too infrequently. Watching the pillow guy fall apart, strand by strand, is satisfying theater. So, too Rudolph Giuliani diddling his little stubby in a hotel room with an actress he thought was jail-bait. It is natural for those of us who commit to following the mores of a functional society to see those who do not pay for it. I’ll admit this shameful thing: it disappoints me that more Covid deniers haven’t become deathly ill, but that’s my own petty failing, and not something a healthy person should live in, if that person wishes to remain sane. I’m not saying that we need to treat MAGA Terrorists like prodigal children, but we’ll keep getting them if we don’t recognize that it is something more ominous than their feeble-minded gullibility at work here

Ultimately, less time needs to be spent condemning the foolish voters and more dedicated to pushing the Justice Department and Courts for the most severe penalties, the very highest fines, possible. This Fanone fellow voted poorly, but he didn’t wage war against America. Let’s focus of those who did, and those who put them up to it.

(As always, this is a one-off draft. Typos and other confusions reflect a hurried soul and a harried mind. Figure it out.)


More On The #OregonUnderAttack Drama

I posted yesterday about the attack on Malheur National Wildlife Preserve, and while I admittedly was shooting somewhat from the hip, as the saying goes, I stand by the basics of what I said.  As time passes, more information has made the press and more folks with better communication skills and greater understanding have stepped up to offer their own accounts on the attack.  The basics, in brief:

Some ranchers in Oregon, from the Hammond family, were convicted of doing some stuff on federal land that they knew they weren’t supposed to do, and did anyway because, well, at best they just thought they knew better or, at worst, were hiding evidence of poaching.  A sympathetic judge rendered slap-on-the-wrist-style punishments, which were then overturned by a bigger judge who ruled those sentences didn’t meet guidelines, being too lenient.

Folks got angry. Some thought this amounted to double jeopardy. Down in Nevada, famous ranching scion Ammon Bundy, whose own family generated a big hysteria by initiating an armed stand-off with federal authorities just last year, inserted himself in the discussion and called for his gun-happy militia comrades, to join him in Oregon, stage a protest, and cause a big stir that would get their pet issues back in the spotlight.

Most of the folks around Burns, OR were annoyed and frightened by the arrival of about 150 extremists. Calls for them to leave town persisted. The local sheriff received death threats when he refused to back the extremist calls to join them in defying the federal government.

The Hammond family issued a statement distancing themselves from Bundy and his gang, even as a small group of them moved on the Malheur National Wildlife Preserve, occupied the park headquarters, and issued a statement that they wouldn’t leave “for a long time” or until the Hammonds were exonerated and the preserve, founded by Teddy Roosevelt about a hundred years ago, was turned over to mining, timbering, drilling, and ranching interests. The claim the park, which (again) was established over a hundred years ago, is part of an insidious United Nations Plot to end private land ownership in the USA  and cede authority to a “new world order.”

I’ve arranged some links below, including a wonderful screed by a pro-Bundy blogger which I’ll put right at the top of the list.  Make sure to watch the video of the poor, deluded guy crying in his truck, drunk on anti-government kool-aid.

The Last Refuge

Ammon Bundy: Five Fast Facts You Need To Know

ABC News

#OregonUnderAttack: The Tweets You Need to See

Commentary Uncategorized

Bundy, Militia Extremists At It Again


*This is an initial response to a continuing and evolving situation. Bundy & his comrades are now demanding that the Hammonds’ sentences be cancelled and that the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge be surrendered by the federal government and handed over to ranchers, drillers, and timber operators.

Armed protesters take over federal wildlife refuge in Oregon

Ammon Bundy, son of Nevada rancher, scofflaw, and cheat Clivon Bundy (where do these people get these names?), is in the news again, chasing the media spotlight to rural Oregon, where he is attempting to re-create the hoopla and hysteria that arose back when Clivon Bundy and his family rallied up their bug-eyed militia brethren in response to the federal Bureau of Land Management’s astounding insistence that the Bundys pay the fees that they had incurred over decades of grazing their cattle on public lands.

I’ve written about the elder Bundy here and here before.

Now, the younger Bundy is throwing his influence with the militia and conspiracy set to rally wackos and misanthropes to another exaggerated cause, protesting sentences imposed upon an Oregon father and son ranching duo, Dwight and Steven Hammond, after they admittedly set a series of fires on public lands over the course of nearly a decade.

“This will become a base place for patriots from all over the country to come and be housed here,” self-aggrandizing, self-appointed spokesperson Ammon Bundy said. “And we’re planning on staying here for several years.”

Bundy said they will be “bringing the lands up and getting the ranchers back to ranching and the miners back to mining, putting the loggers back to logging, where they could do it under the protection of the people, and not be afraid of this tyranny that has been upon them.”

The Hammonds, Bundys, and their supporters would have us believe that this is all a government set-up calculated to somehow wrest control of the Hammonds’ considerable acreage. Their main defense is that setting fires is a legitimate land management strategy (which it is) and that the Hammonds, in setting these fires without permits, are nevertheless innocent because they don’t agree with the law. In short, they’re saying that because they know better than the BLM staff who denied them permission, their breaking the law should be permitted.

*Update: Dwight Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven, 46, the Oregon ranchers at the center of the protest, rejected the Bundy federal building takeover, according to CBS News.

They are expected to report to prison Monday to begin serving their sentences. “Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond Family,” their attorney, W. Alan Schroder, told KOIN

This is like getting a speeding ticket for going 84 in Kansas and, despite having seen the 75 mph speed limit sign, contending that the ticket–and the law that determines the speed limit–is invalid because we know that we could have safely driven 90 or more. For most of us, this is an absurdity. We may still break the law, but we understand that we’re doing just that and while we may bitch and moan up a storm about it, when we’re caught we take our medicine.

The subset of anti-government extremists who flock to these “causes” fail to recognize–or refuse to admit–that use of public land is a privilege, not a right. The great irony is that the ranchers who enjoy heavily subsidized access–gaining exclusive access to vast parcels of taxpayer-owned lands at a fraction of the price commanded by private landowners– to commonly held land are often the first to decry the “entitlements” others receive. Some, like the Bundys, simply refuse to pay at all, daring the government to try and collect, tangling those collections up in litigation, and ultimately throwing a world-class hissy fit that ends up with pseudo-solider redneck snipers peering through their scopes and public employees sent to uphold the law.

Men like Bundy and his seditious, criminal father wrap themselves in the flag and brandish the constitution at one momentthen turn and say they refuse to acknowledge the authority of the same when it suits their rhetorical purposes. They have this twisted idea that, somehow, because they fatten themselves at the public teat, for pennies on the dollar (again, which men like the Bundys often refuse to pay), and wear a goofy hat, they are somehow greater and better Americans than those of us who respect the rule of law and pay our own way.