insurrection

A Moment Spent Dwelling on Failure

Clockwise from top left: Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy, insurrectionists who participated in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in booking photos released 27 January 2016, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

And then there is the update we would, on balance, prefer to not give a damn about:

Anti-government militants who seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year conspired to intimidate government workers and steal property, a heavily armed invasion that was not protected by the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow told a packed courtroom in downtown Portland that during the January takeover, the conspirators, many wearing camouflage and toting rifles, practiced shooting drills and hand-to-hand combat at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They also had a stockpile of some 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

“We all have a right to bear arms,” Barrow said. “This is a case about what the defendants did with those firearms.”

(Sherwood)

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Suggestive of a Problem (Righteous Rebel Remix)

Glenn Beck, circa 2016, via Twitter.

Sometimes I think it really is just about action-hero fantasies imagining some good reason to kill people.

Glenn Beck’s radio program has been suspended from its SiriusXM simulcast after Beck described the election of Donald Trump as a “possible extinction-level event for capitalism” during an interview with a guest who suggested that a “patriot” will then need to “step up” and “remove him from office.”

During Wednesday’s “Glenn Beck Radio Program,” guest and conservative fiction author Brad Thor said he “guarantees” that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would temporarily suspend the Constitution if elected president, calling the controversial candidate a “danger to America.”

“This could bring down incredible heat on me because I’m about to suggest something very bad―it is a hypothetical I’m going to ask as a thriller writer,” Thor said. “With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as President? If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that? If―if―he overstates his constitutionally-granted authority I should say as president, if he oversteps that, how do we get him out of office? I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office, because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”

Instead of following up on Thor’s remark about Trump’s “removal” from office, Beck simply said he agreed before going on to say that he believed the economy would “reset” and decline “even if Jesus were in office.”

(Tesfaye)

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Congressional Speculation

Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential candidate, does a sound check during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. Ryan delivered his speech at the convention Wednesday night, 29 August 2012. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“One senior GOP aide familiar with discussions between leadership and the Freedom Caucus used Dante Alighieri’s description of hell in ‘The Divine Comedy’, with its varying concentric circles, to describe the HFC. No candidate will get to the innermost circle. But Ryan could pick off a lot of members on the outer rings.”

Matt Fuller

The upshot here is that the idea of static or patterned chaos, which really does sound somewhat counterintuitive until you do the thing with a triangle and dice, but in this case we mean something yet altogether different: Meet the new chaos; same as the old chaos. House Republicans seem caught up in some sort of loop, waiting for Ryan while trying to deliberately ignore the gigantic question mark they keep glancing aside in hopes of checking.

Matt Fuller of Roll Call explains:

If the HFC, after largely taking credit for pushing out Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and blocking the ascension of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is seen as having scuttled a Ryan speakership, the divide between the ultra-conservative group and the rest of the conference could become even more unmanageable.

Without Ryan, the speaker’s race threatens to turn into a free-for-all. On Tuesday, there were at least a half dozen new names of Republicans quietly testing the water for runs of their own, including a couple of Texans (Reps. Bill Flores and Michael McCaul), the wealthiest man in Congress (Rep. Darrell Issa) and a woman, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn ....

.... Sources close to Ryan say the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee has no intention of putting up with an insurrection on his right flank. If Ryan agrees to take the speakership, he will tell colleagues he’ll only do it with all of their support. What’s more, he is making no promises about overhauling the process, shaking up the Steering Committee or any of the other concessions being floated by conservatives.

If that’s Ryan’s position, there will almost certainly be Republicans who will oppose him. And then conservatives will have a choice of their own. They can either hold fast to their procedural demands, or they can get on board with a Ryan speakership.

In truth, Mr. Fuller’s running commentary about sources is much more enlightening. After all, Congress is Congress, and reporters are merely human. Every little piece, you know? It’s not just the stories they tell, but also whether or not we are capable of understanding them. In communicative relationships, the burdens of transmission are much more apparent than the obligations of actually being able to receive.

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Image note: Detail of photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Fuller, Matt. “Oh, and another thing I noticed”. Twitter. 13 October 2015.

—————. “Ryan’s Choice and the House Freedom Caucus Fallout”. 218. Roll Call. 13 October 2015.

Liberty Counsel

Liberty Counsel

Brian Tashman of Right Wing Watch put together a brief list―and thank him, since that means you don’t have to do it yourself―of strange arguments offered in support of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who asserts her ad hoc religion entitles her, as an equally protected constitutional right, to decide who is entitled to their equally protected constitutional rights.

The list itself is pretty straightforward except for its unbelievability; yet here we are, and this is real:

(1) God’s law trumps U.S. law

(2) Davis was elected before Obergefell, so she’s exempt

(3) Davis is the only clerk obeying the law

(4) Gays can just drive to another county

(5) Anti-religious test for office

While it is true that these are all nonsensical, we might take a moment to consider that first, reminding of two points: Insurrection and bad attorneys.

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The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

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The Lindsey Graham Show (Liftoff)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina.  (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Did you ever rehearse a line and then not use it, but later found yourself wondering why not, because it was a perfectly servicible line, and that is why you were working on it in the first place?

Right.

A few weeks ago I mused to a friend over the idea that when Lindsey Graham gets to make a Civil War joke while playing the adult in the room, Republicans might want to take a moment to figure out just where they are. The map is not the territory, but why are they using that map?

But as I explained to a friend, there is no mystery that I don’t really like Sen. Graham; perhaps the best thing going for the Palmetto Republican is that he is not the worst person in the state of South Carolina. I pointed out that we all know his presidential ambitions aren’t grounded in any political reality. Still, it was enough to appreciate the moment when Lindsey Graham was the sane voice in the room, and wonder if perhaps he might have tacitly ended his presidential aspirations.

And in that I was wrong.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham officially added his name to the growing list of Republicans seeking the White House in 2016 on Monday, focusing his message on the hawkish foreign policy positions that have made him a leading voice among the Senate GOP.

“I’ve got one simple message: I have more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race. That includes you, Hillary,” Graham said in Central, South Carolina, his childhood home.

The three-term senator is expected to focus his candidacy on combating Islamic militants in the Middle East, stabilizing Iraq and preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. He has been highly critical of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who has said U.S. intervention abroad led to the rise of ISIS.

(Rafferty)

A three-term one-trick pony who can crack wise about the Civil War at Ted Cruz’s expense.

Honestly, of all the never-been won’t-be candidates in the race, I figured Mr. Graham smart enough to stay out. Am I underestimating exploratory committees, or overestimating?

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Image Note: U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) announces his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, 1 June 2015, in Central, South Carolina. (Detail of frame from msnbc)

Rafferty, Andrew. “Lindsey Graham launches 2016 presidential bid”. msnbc. 1 June 2015.

Benen, Steve. “Leading Republicans differ over armed ‘insurrection'”. msnbc. 17 April 2015.

The Setup

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marrriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.  (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From the office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX01):

“Over the past few weeks, my office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 15, 2015. This military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law.

Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned. We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.

Having served in the U.S. Army, I can understand why military officials have a goal to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle various threat scenarios. In military science classes or in my years on active duty, I have participated in or observed military exercises; however, we never named an existing city or state as a “hostile.” We would use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as ‘hostile,’ as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.”

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The Politics of Victimhood (Wannabe Wax Wix Mix)

Rick Santorum speaks during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Let us start with Steve Benen, and note that there really is nothing unfamiliar about the situation he describes.

First up from the God Machine this week is an aggressive push from likely Republican presidential candidates to characterize social conservatives as a “victims” of a secular American government.msnbc

If this seems like a cyclical problem, it’s not your imagination. Four years ago, Newt Gingrich delivered one of my favorite quotes of all time, warning that if conservatives “do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America,” his grandchildren might one day live “in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists.” The contradiction was apparently lost on him.

Four years later, it’s Rick Santorum reading from a similar script ....

No, really, this is nothing new. But it is worth noting, because in truth it seems somewhat strange that the point doesn’t come up more.

Whether insurrectionist paranoia or craven, misguided, and exploited self-indictment, we should not be surprised; this is no different than pop arguments about how men are the real victims of rape and sexism, or whites the real victims of racism, this is hardly new. It seems like a perverse Munchausen envy, as if societal majorities become jealous at the attention and care shown their victims.

To the other, what about this isn’t self-evident? Benen makes a good point about contradiction; one needs not even make sense in order to gain support among the evangelical crowd, unless, of course, we accept the supremacist notion that they all look the same. After all, if “atheist” means “non-Christian”, then Gingrich’s complaint about a secular atheist society dominated by radical Islamists suddenly makes sense.

And this is sufficient―or, at least, it should be―to make the point about what it is these would-be victims actually fear.

As to the latest? Benen simply notes Rick Santorum lamenting that, “We have now the secular church that is being imposed on this country and anybody that defects is subject to persecution and prosecution.” We might suggest the spattering sputter from the Pennsylvania Republican is complete excrement and he knows it, but that latter is unclear. While it is observable that these elements are pitching tantrums on behalf of supremacism and bigotry, it is not entirely clear that they remain so possessed of their faculties as to be capable of recognizing the problem.

Remember, any bully losing his privilege will lament lost rights.

Evangelical Christian faith is not inherent victimhood, but these people seem to really, really want to suffer. But here’s the thing about human sympathy toward victims of injustice: That sympathy diminishes when you do it to yourseslf.

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Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 4.25.15”. msnbc. 25 April 2015.

The Ted Cruz Show (Epistemic Closure Loop Mix)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, during the Iowa Agriculture Summit, Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Mark Peterson/Redux for MSNBC)

It would be wrong to start with, “One of the comforts of life …”. After all, that’s a low standard for comfort. Still, though, we can rest assured that in today’s political climate, time is on … uh … the side of … er … well, I guess reality, but that is so self-evident as to be anti-climactic.

Right.

Let us start, then, with Dave Weigel for Bloomberg:

After Texas Senator Ted Cruz addressed the First in the Nation summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Saturday, he headed to a basement conference room for a conversation with young Republicans. There was no filming of the speech, but reporters were allowed to sit in as Cruz fielded questions about Iran, millennials, and his own fitness for president. When one audience member asked Cruz what executive experience he could bring to the job, Cruz lambasted the “greybeards” in Washington for coming up with the “senator versus governor” framework in the first place.

“Obama is not a disaster because he was a senator,” said Cruz. “Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist, what he believes is profoundly dangerous, and he’s undermined the Constitution and the role of America in the world.”

Remember, this is Sen. Cruz’s response to a question about executive experience, and his answer was to reframe the issue as one of Republican moderates versus hardliners:

According to Cruz, the only reason that pundits were saying the GOP needed to run a governor, not a senator, was that “most of the establishment moderates” in the field were governors. “In 1980, the strong conservative running in the race was Ronald Reagan,” Cruz said. “You didn’t hear ‘we need a governor’ then, because he was a governor. So none of those voices said, ‘We need a governor.’ They said, ‘You know what? We need a former congressman, named George Herbert Walker Bush. Likewise, in 2008, the moderate choice was a senator, John McCain. Go back and look at the TV discussions to find any of these voices going on television, saying ‘we need a governor’ in 2008. Then, the choice of those voices was that candidate, so that argument didn’t get used.”

Still, in the middle of it all, Cruz needs to take a moment to beat a dead horse.

Thus, something completely different―a backstory.

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The End Times Shuffle (Bachmann’s Belfry Backbeat)

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — MARCH 16: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 16, 2013, in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC to rally conservatives and generate ideas. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

There are so many things going on, here.

In a radio interview last week, Bachmann, the former Minnesota Republican congresswoman, told “End Times” host Jan Markell, “We need to realize how close this clock is getting to the midnight hour.”

“We in our lifetimes potentially could see Jesus Christ returning to earth and the rapture of the church,” Bachmann said. “We see the destruction, but this was a destruction that was foretold.”

Bachmann cited the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran as a cause. The U.S. and five partner nations are discussing a deal with Iran that would prevent the country from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons.

“We are literally watching, month by month, the speed move up to a level we’ve never seen before with these events,” Bachmann said. “Barack Obama is intent. It is his number one goal to ensure that Iran has a nuclear weapon.”

(Fang)

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