Today in Hashtag Violence, Terrorism, and Leaderless Resistance.

Today we have several examples of hashtag (stochastic) violence and terrorism and leaderless resistance.  First up is a thwarted militia plot from Kansas. Three Kansan militia men were arrested today by the FBI and are now in the Sedgewick County Jail awaiting arraignment for plotting to attack an apartment complex housing Somali refugee families and a mosque in Garden City, KS on 9 November (h/t: Charles Johnson at LGF).

Next up, from yesterday actually, we have two fine, upstanding Trump supporters that decided to demonstrate that support by standing in front of Jane Dittmer’s campaign office in Palmyra, VA for 12 hours while legally open carrying handguns. Daniel Parks, who organized this two man protest, had this to say:

I’m just trying to provide a voice for someone who might be closet supporters of Trump. Other people that are a little worried to speak out because of possible persecution. We’re not a threat to anybody, the only threat is ignorance, and ignorance will breed fear.

Su Wolff who was onsite at the time volunteering in Ditmmer’s campaign office said:

He turned sideways to be sure that we would see that he has an open carry gun, which is legal, it’s fine, but it’s intimidating,” she said of one protester. “If he wants to support his candidate that’s fine, but don’t come here and stare into the office all day.

It is important to note that Virginia is a legal open carry state. That said, Mr. Parks remarks about the “only threat is ignorance and ignorance will breed fear” is part of the open carry argument of gun normalization. Gun normalization is the argument (belief?) that if open carry is legal, people will see open carriers open carrying and when they don’t see open carriers do anything threatening or illegal or anything bad happen, then they will stop being afraid of guns and the people that carry them – openly or otherwise.

Finally, we get to Trump’s own rally in Greensboro, NC where a couple of his supporters in attendance decided to rough up a protestor that displayed the American flag upside down, which is the classic symbol for distress.

Only 26 days to go… Stay frosty!

The Trials of Snack Team 6: Is it Ammon Bundy or Ammon Buddha?


Ammon Bundy has now completed his three days on the stand in his own defense. What have we learned? We’ve learned that Ammon Bundy thinks he’s the Buddha.

“Is it your testimony today you were not the leader?” Knight continued.

Bundy told Knight he wanted to clarify “what you’re wanting me to say.”

“I teach correct principles and let them govern themselves,” Bundy said.

Oy vey…

Bundy also testified that:

Knight said guns were brought to “keep the federal government away,” right?

“No,” Bundy responded.

Yet Knight reminded him of his testimony that if the occupiers hadn’t brought firearms to the refuge, they likely would have been hauled off in zip ties and handcuffs in a paddy wagon.

“So the presence of guns prolonged your presence?” Knight asked.

“It protected us from being detained,” Bundy said. “I would say they allowed us to express our First Amendment rights.”

And LaVoy Finicum’s widow also testified!

She said her husband got a call on New Year’s Day, asking him to support the Jan. 2 rally in Burns in support of Harney County ranchers Dwight Hammond Jr. and Steven Hammond, ordered to return to prison for arson on federal lands.

She said her husband drove all night to Burns with co-defendant Ryan Bundy. She thought he’d stay a day or two, and when he told her he was at the refuge and planned to be there, she urged him to return to Utah.

“The first part of the week I repeatedly asked my husband to come home,” she said, breaking down in tears.

By the end of that first week, she said her husband was committed to staying because local ranchers had urged him to do so. She visited the refuge the weekend of Jan. 22, and had planned to meet up with her husband again in Idaho on the following weekend.

The judge didn’t allow anyone to question Finicum’s widow about her husband’s shooting, or a wrongful death lawsuit that she intends to bring against the government.

“She should not be asked about his death, period,” U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown instructed.

We have additional coverage from earlier in the week from Balloon Juice Bunker embedded commentator Soylent Green who offers the following disclaimer: “Note that I am very much not a lawyer and don’t understand the rules, so won’t go into much detail. I just want to capture the trial’s overall character.”

A Day at the Bundy Trial (October 3)

I got to the courthouse early. After guests of the lawyers and defendants were allowed into the courtroom, there was space available for eight members of the public. I was number nine in line. So I had to watch the trial on closed-circuit from the overflow room. In the jury seating of courtroom 13A I was surrounded by a gaggle of Bundy fans – cheerful middle-aged women with flag accessories, bedazzled jeans and purses, cowboy boots, big western belt buckles.

Testifying on Monday were Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward, then four Bundy supporters. Three were Burns, Oregon, locals, and the fourth was one of the occupiers, who like many of the occupiers was never charged.

The prosecution has worked very hard to prevent this from becoming a circus trial, which is the intent of Ammon and his team. They keep trying hard to push their narrative, the one in which the federal government is an evil, tyrannical monster countered by a brave band of true patriots who held a peaceful protest to convey how the U.S. constitution proves that the federal government has no authority over public lands. The Bundy gang earnestly believes this narrative will sway the jury to their cause because God is on their side. However, Judge Anna Brown is having none of it, shutting down most of their endless attempts to speechify or extract phrasing from witnesses in ways that are irrelevant, argumentative, hearsay, nonsense, or otherwise a waste of the jury’s time. The prosecution made what should be a slam-dunk case for a guilty verdict, but Ammon’s strategy may work if he can sway or mislead the jury.

Throughout the trial, Ammon Bundy has been dressed in his blue jail scrubs. The judge forbade him from wearing his cowboy costume, so this is his way of sending a message that he is a political prisoner in a kangaroo court. Meanwhile, Ryan Bundy has been wearing a dark suit and tie, but with a leather vest under the jacket to maintain his cowboy cred.

Next to Ryan is Shawna Cox and behind her is David Fry, slouched with his knees up, feet on Shawna’s chair and with a fixed sullen expression.

Ryan and Shawna are representing themselves, thus are conducting their own direct and cross examinations of the witnesses, with comical results.

Ammon’s lawyer Marcus Mumford (aka “Mumbles”) is a piece of work. He is not an impassive professional but a fellow Sovereign Citizen (SovCit) true believer. The man has a serious stuttering problem. And his speech in general is halting and unfocused. And he gets excited and frustrated and whiny. This is not how lawyers on TV lawyer shows talk.

(This is verbatim). Mumford greeting a witness: “uh, uh, guh, guh, guh, good, uh, guh, good morning, Mr. Rose.” Mumford asks a question: “You understand that Ammon Bundy was, uh, uh, was, was, was, asking that, and, and, uh, uh…” (loses train of thought). Or he chokes on the first word of a sentence, can’t get it out, then there’s a long pause before he starts over. This has been going on the entire trial and is driving everyone crazy.

Worse it that Mumbles has been ill-prepared for each day’s proceedings. He has not cleared his witness or exhibits with the prosecution. He has not prepared his exhibits for trial use, and keeps trying to get the jury to watch hour-long unedited videos instead of excerpting them. He has not given the judge what she needs to review in advance. Then (this went on all day, and I’m told has been going on every day since the trial started on Sept. 7) Judge Brown must admonish him to get his act together. Repeatedly, with waning patience. You can hear the exasperation in her voice. He tries to introduce exhibits (videos, letters, all kind of stuff that the poots have been spreading on social media all year) that have no bearing on the case. (Aside: “poots” is the new term for Bundy supporters of any stripe, short for “pootriots,” from the occupiers’ use of a government backhoe to dig latrines at the refuge.) He wants to show hours of videos from the Bunkerville standoff of patriots cheering as they heroically hold off the jackbooted government thugs. Then the judge must spend an hour or more each day winnowing down all this junk. The defense is not really defending against the charges because Ammon’s gang believes that their cause transcends federal law.

All day long we hear “Counselor, I have told you over and over, please stop wasting the jury’s time.” Or after Mumford calls witnesses to the stand, he strays into unrelated areas. So I kept hearing the judge say “Please move on” … “Get to the point” … “Irrelevant. Ask another question” … “Move to another subject please.”

This may be intentional. Mumford may be trying to bore the jury to death so that they stop listening to the testimony. Or to confuse the jurors enough to get a hung jury.

The tenor of this trial can be captured in two words. “Objection.” “Sustained.” In this single day I heard something like 150 instances from the prosecutors of “objection, irrelevant” or “objection, argumentative” or “objection, hearsay” with almost all of them sustained. The judge keeps trying to keep the trial focused and the Bundy gang keeps trying to pitch their stirring narrative (patriotic Americans standing against the evil gubmint).

In the morning they called Sheriff Ward to the stand and tried to get him to confirm their story. In their version, they asked him very nicely (meeting with him repeatedly in the months before the occupation) to do his duty and protect his citizens (the Hammonds) from the feds. In a letter, Ammon asked him to “turn your weapons” on federal marshals coming to return the Hammonds to jail to complete their sentence. Mumford presented this letter as though it somehow exonerated his client.

Ward is in a tough spot. He must go home to Burns fearing retribution by some yahoo. He kept his cool and answered questions very tersely. I don’t know why the defense called him as a witness because he did them no favors. I think they wanted to show that he had failed to do his duty thus was to blame for their next move. In their minds, all sheriffs are constitutional sheriffs, but most don’t know it yet and must be edjumicated.

While Judge Brown was speaking, Ammon interrupted her, more than once. “Sir, sir, keep quiet please.”

When Ryan Bundy is speaking, he uses big words incorrectly. He is trying to sound like a lawyer. There is a cockiness in his voice.

The afternoon witnesses: all four have been well-coached by the defense team to drop Bundy narrative talking points.

First up is Kim Rollins, longtime Burns resident. An older man with a glorious white beard that would put Santa Claus to shame. “Did you see any guns on display at the refuge?” “No, never.” (Not remotely true as there are many images of cosplay commandos with assault rifles.) Did he see any damage to the facility? No, it was very well cared for.

Next up is Pat Harlicher of Burns. Mumford: “Uh uh did, how, how, how, how did you be, become informed about the refuge?” Harlicher said he visited the occupation six times, with many friends along. It was a happy family camping scene. No guns on display. “I learned that what the constitution says about our public lands and the need to return them to their rightful owners.” Judge Brown instructs the jury to disregard this statement. But they’ve heard and processed it, which must be the defense’s intention. Harlicher is asked about what is going on in Burns during the occupation and he remarks about the big police presence around the county courthouse (where Harney County Judge Grasty had received death threats) and Harlicher says, “It was like a scene out of Red Dawn.”

Third witness, Brand Nu Thornton of Las Vegas (yep, that’s his name). Thornton is one of the occupiers and was present before it started, planning it with Ammon, and stayed until the day before Ammon was arrested. But he skated with no charges, go figure. Thornton is the shofar (rams horn) guy. Says he has a “shofar ministry.” On the stand, he is wearing a Mexican serape. A smug bastard, smiles and laughs a lot. Waves to David Fry. Shawna Cox winks at him. He drops his talking points. “After the ambush where LaVoy was murdered by the FBI…” Judge Brown: “Jurors, disregard that remark.”

Thornton’s biggest whopper of the day: Were federal workers impeded from doing their jobs? No, we would have given them a warm welcome and let them work. Had the refuge fisheries biologist come in, the occupiers would have given her back her chair. (This after they had rifled through all her work and personal files). Of course they ignore the fact that the first duty of the Fish and Wildlife Service staff would be to clear the public from all the non-public space, which is every inch of the facility except the bird museum at the front.

On Tuesday morning, Thornton was in the street blowing his shofar. I heard him from my desk.

I’ll stop here as there are better reporters of these proceedings. See their tweets on Fogbow.

I’m not absolutely sure the government will win this case. The jury members were chosen because they had not (or said they hadn’t) heard anything about this case, which was big national news, and bigger news in Oregon. Several are from deep-red eastern Oregon, where anti-federal-land-manager sentiment runs strong. Some might be swayed by the Bundy narrative, no matter how much the judge swats it down. I doubt it but it’s possible.

UPDATE: A lot has happened in the last two days, with Ammon on the witness stand, where he gave a tearful, godbothering account of his quixotic cause. God compelled him to pursue it. If federal laws were broken, justice demands that they be disregarded. Some observers are saying that the trial is off the rails and the judge has lost control, because the defense witnesses have been given more latitude to sell their fairy tale. (Michelle Fiore got in another “Lavoy was murdered.” Judge: Jurors, disregard that remark.)

Other commenters say the judge is playing eleventy dimensional chess by allowing the defense to do the prosecution’s work and proudly, willfully incriminate themselves in both cases, Oregon and Nevada.

America is on a slippery slope. Belief, biases, and bullshit are trying to push aside rationalism and the rule of law. Trumpism is the leading edge, of which the Bundy/militia/SovCit movement is a subset.

The Trials of Snack Team 6: The Embezzling!


While the Prosecution has rested in the Trial of Snack Team 6 and the Defense has begun to present their case, including calling Franklin Graham to the stand, we have news relating our intrepid heroes that originated outside the courtroom. The Idaho Statesmen is reporting that Brandon Curtiss, the leader of the Idaho III% Militia, took $2,901 of donations meant to assist four Idaho III% members who have been charged in the 2014 Bundy family led Bunkerville standoff (h/t: TPM). As a result 36 members of the Idaho III% Militia have resigned because Curtiss has allegedly taken this money and spent it on a variety of items that have absolutely nothing to do with funds to assist the four of his members and their families as they wait for their upcoming days in Federal Court.

The group’s PayPal account was in Curtiss’ name. PayPal records show Curtiss paid $295 on Aug. 7 to Rollin Smoke Diesel, an Indiana company that supplies aftermarket parts that allow pickups with diesel engines to produce thick clouds of black smoke in what has become a fad in some areas. The next day, the company credited $13 back to the account.

On Aug. 8, the account was billed $30 from Mister Car Wash in Nampa. Other payments that month for which the business purpose wasn’t clear include $37.50 to Adele’s Storage in Clarkston, Wash.; $30 to, an online company that provides criminal records, personal financial information and contact information for people; $18.55 to a Taco Bell in Ontario, Ore.; and $71.59 to a Maverik store in Fruitland, where Curtiss resides.

That same month, the Mountain West Bank statement shows a $98.44 charge for an Idaho Parks and Recreation camping reservation and a $5 iTunes music download. There were also $292 in gasoline and food charges in Winnemucca, Nev., and Roseville and Sacramento, Calif., on Aug. 3 and 4, along with an Aug. 3 Walmart purchase in Sacramento.

By Sept. 13, the bank account showed a balance of $12.58. Six days later, the account was closed. It’s unclear whether 3% of Idaho has another existing bank account or what financial resources it still has.

Also, Curtiss appears to be a general, all around deadbeat. He was fined for not paying the Workman’s Comp premiums earlier this year for his Bail Recovery Agency, the Sons of Liberty Fugitive Recovery Service.

Tune in tomorrow for more updates. Same Bundy time, same Bundy station.

(I am not sure if it is kosher to mix Roman numerals with a % sign. But that’s how these guys do their name/symbol. I apologize if this is shaatnez.)

Long Read: “The Sandy Hook Hoax”

If you stare too long into the abyss… Reeves Wiedeman, in NYMag: “Lenny Pozner used to believe in conspiracy theories. Until his son’s death became one“:

On December 14, 2012, Lenny Pozner dropped off his three children, Sophia, Arielle, and Noah, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Noah had recently turned 6, and on the drive over they listened to his favorite song, “Gangnam Style,” for what turned out to be the last time. Half an hour later, while Sophia and Arielle hid nearby, Adam Lanza walked into Noah’s first-grade class with an AR-15 rifle. Noah was the youngest of the 20 children and seven adults killed in one of the deadliest shootings in American history. When the medical examiner found Noah lying face up in a Batman sweatshirt, his jaw had been blown off. Lenny and his wife, Veronique, raced to the school as soon as they heard the news, but had to wait for hours alongside other parents to learn their son’s fate.

It didn’t take much longer for Pozner to find out that many people didn’t believe his son had died or even that he had lived at all. Days after the rampage, a man walked around Newtown filming a video in which he declared that the massacre had been staged by “some sort of New World Order global elitists” intent on taking away our guns and our liberty. A week later, James Tracy, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, wrote a blog post expressing doubts about the massacre. By January, a 30-minute YouTube video, titled “The Sandy Hook Shooting — Fully Exposed,” which asked questions like “Wouldn’t frantic kids be a difficult target to hit?,” had been viewed more than 10 million times…

“I prefer the term hoaxer to truther,” Lenny said, kicking a pair of jeans and Adidas flip-flops onto the footrest of a leather Barcalounger. “There’s nothing truthful about it.” There is no universal Sandy Hook hoax narrative, but the theories generally center on the idea that a powerful force (the Obama administration, gun-control groups, the Illuminati) staged the shooting, with the assistance of paid “crisis actors,” including the Pozners, the other Sandy Hook families, and countless Newtown residents, government officials, and media outlets. The children are said to have never existed or to be living in an elaborate witness-­protection program…
Read more

The Trials of Snack Team Six: The Contemptening


When last we left our intrepid heroes they were attempting to impeach, post facto, the credibility of Harney County Sheriff Dave Ward. In our most recent installment, however, Ammon Bundy’s attorney has decided that what this trial needs is more references to the late LaVoy Finicum! Maxine Berstein, doing yeoman’s (yeowoman? yeoperson?) at The Oregonian, has the details:

U.S. District Judge Anna J. Brown on Thursday threatened to hold Ammon Bundy’s lawyer in contempt of court each time he defies her order and tries to delve into the circumstances surrounding the officer-involved fatal shooting of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during trial.

The judge told attorney Marcus Mumford that she’d fine him $1,000 each time he raises the issue in front of jurors in the federal conspiracy trial of Bundy and six others stemming from the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

“I have ruled on this issue and it appears to me you disregard it,” Brown told Mumford after excusing the jury for a morning restroom break.

“Do you understand what I’m saying … yes or no?” the judge asked Mumford as he was about to explain. She cut him off, requesting a simple answer, just as he’s done to witnesses on the stand.

“I don’t understand. Your honor says I’m asking improper questions?” Mumford said.

The judge pointed to Mumford’s questioning of rancher Andy Dunbar, whose property is adjacent to the eastern Oregon refuge, about what he learned on Jan. 26 about the fatal shooting of Finicum.

“You are not to do that,” Brown said.

“You’re telling me I’m allowed to inquire about the shooting, but not the circumstances of the shooting?” Mumford asked.

Brown reminded him: Anything about Finicum’s shooting death, beyond that it occurred and the date, isn’t allowed to be discussed in front of jurors.

“I can understand the words,” Mumford told her.

“I hope you can comply,” the judge said.

The admonition followed days of directions by the judge to Mumford about restricting his questions during cross-examination to the testimony elicited during prosecutors’ direct examination of witnesses. She has frequently sustained prosecutors’ objections to Mumford’s lines of questioning because they were either irrelevant or “beyond the scope” of the direct testimony during the past two weeks of trial.

The judge instructed Mumford and all other attorneys to take any concerns up with her outside the presence of the jury if they want to ask questions that go beyond her order.

Tune back in on Monday for our next installment of How the Snack Team Digests. Same Bundy time, same Bundy station!

Late-Night ‘Exactly What You Expected’ Open Thread: Don Trump, Yer LAWN ORDURE Candidate!

“They know who has has a gun, who shouldn’t be having a gun.” If they can’t pass the time-honored paper bag test, for instance. Or just if it’s obvious they’re “not from around here.” THOSE people. Does he need to spell it out any more clearly?

‘But racism didn’t exist until you outside agitators riled up our colored folk!’ – NC legislator

Electile Dysfunction (Open Thread)

After getting pantsed by Trump repeatedly, the Beltway media might be in the process of remembering how to do their jobs, but this still made me laugh:

As of this posting, the cops in NYC are still trying to sort out who set off the bomb that injured 29 people. They’re calling it an “intentional blast” and have found a second device that may have been another bomb that failed to detonate.

The Washington Post has an interesting article authored by Terrence McCoy. It’s about a dangerous explosion of another type: the proliferation of open carry laws nationwide. It focuses on one Trump-supporting dude in Georgia who is too afraid to shop at Walmart without his AR-15. An excerpt:

Jim [Cooley] goes everywhere now with a gun — if not the AR-15, then his sidearm — and is so reliant on one being close by that it surprises him to think the majority of his life was lived otherwise. He was raised in a working-class family in Chicago, where he can’t imagine living now because of its strict gun laws. But they didn’t bother him then. He didn’t hunt. He didn’t fear for his safety. If his dad had a gun, no one knew. He grew up without a gun, went to church without a gun, married Maria without a gun, began raising two children without a gun, and settled into a life that felt as safe as it was dependable.

But then it began unraveling, starting when he was fired from a trucking job days after telling Maria, who was pregnant with their first child, to quit her job and focus on the baby, that he could support them both. Their first bankruptcy filing wasn’t far behind, then the second, and the third, and then they were moving to Florida, where Maria had family and where Jim got a job with a grocery chain. It transferred him to Winder, and he moved the family into a middle-class neighborhood struggling with crime and drugs.

So here’s at least one Trump supporter who actually is dealing with “economic anxiety.” The article alludes to “crime and drugs” in his Georgia neighborhood but doesn’t elaborate on any actual dangers Cooley faces other than money woes. Those suck for sure, but they aren’t something you can shoot.

The article suggests Cooley is living on disability checks and that he went broke when he incurred huge hospital bills after having a heart attack while uninsured. Trump and the state and local-level GOP knobs this dude probably also supports want to slash the social safety net and kill the ACA, thus ensuring millions more Americans go broke from medical bills.

But these facts probably don’t enter into Cooley’s calculus. He’s afraid, so he arms himself with weapons of war, and he supports a racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue who promises “change,” even though the few changes Trump has articulated would negatively affect Cooley.

It’s not a rational choice, any more than the decision to carry an assault rifle into Walmart is. Oddly, Trump and the gun both seem to function as penis extenders.