The Watering Hole, Monday, January 4th, 2016: This Land is Our Land, Too

Okay, if you don’t already know about “The Bundys, NW-Style”, you can catch up here and here, for starters (The Oregonian has several articles keeping up with the situation.) I’m not going to talk about the Bundys, I’m sick of that mooching un-American grifter family.

I want to start with the Hammond family, whose own issues with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are being overshadowed and hijacked by the Bundy terrorist crew. The Hammonds, Dwight and Steve, are surrendering themselves today for their second prison sentence. They want nothing to do with the Bundy boys, and from what I’ve read, most of the townspeople of Burns, Oregon, feel the same way.  But that’s not to say that the Hammonds are – other than arson, of course – law-abiding citizens.

The arson incidents of 2001 and 2006, for which the Hammonds were convicted, weren’t the first run-ins that the family have had with the Feds. A commenter at ThinkProgress posted a link to this October 3rd, 1994, article in the High County News, entitled “Ranchers Arrested at Wildlife Refuge”, by Kathie Durbin:

BURNS, Ore. – The arrest of Dwight Hammond, a hot-tempered eastern Oregon cattle rancher, has galvanized a nasty campaign of retribution against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It all began when federal agents arrested Hammond and his son Steven, Aug. 3. That turned a long-simmering dispute over cattle, fences and water on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge into a bizarre Old West showdown.

Federal officials and a fence-building crew were attempting to build a fence to keep the Hammonds’ cattle from trespassing on the refuge. When Hammond and his son obstructed federal workers, they were taken into custody by nine federal agents, five of whom were armed.

The Hammonds were charged with two counts each of felony “disturbing and interfering with” federal officials or federal contractors. The Hammonds spent one night in the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, and a second night behind bars in Portland before they were hauled before a federal magistrate and released without bail.

On Aug. 10, nearly 500 incensed ranchers showed up at a rally in Burns featuring wise-use speaker Chuck Cushman of the American Land Rights Association, formerly the National Inholders Association. Cushman later issued a fax alert urging Hammond’s supporters to flood refuge employees with protest calls. Some employees reported getting threatening calls at home.

Cushman plans to print a poster with the names and photos of federal agents and refuge managers involved in the arrest and distribute it nationally. “We have no way to fight back other than to make them pariahs in their community,” he said.

Picking up the theme, the Oregon Lands Coalition declared in a recent newsletter, “It’s time to get out the yellow ribbons – this is a hostage situation!”


According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Dwight Hammond had repeatedly violated a special permit that allowed him to move his cows across the refuge only at specific times. In June, refuge manager Forrest Cameron notified Hammond that his right to graze cattle and grow hay on the lush waterfowl haven south of Burns was revoked. The feds also said they planned to build a fence along the refuge boundary to keep Hammond’s cows out of an irrigation canal.

The events of Aug. 3 are outlined in the sworn affidavit of special agent Earl M. Kisler, who assisted in the Hammonds’ arrest. On the day the fence was to be built, the crew and refuge officials arrived to find Hammond had parked his Caterpillar scraper squarely on the boundary line and disabled it, removing the battery and draining fuel lines. When a tow truck arrived to move it, Dwight Hammond showed up, leaped to the controls of the scraper and hit a lever that lowered the bucket, narrowly missing another special agent. Meanwhile, said Kisler, Steve Hammond shouted obscenities at federal officials. Neither Hammond resisted arrest.

“The refuge has been trying to work with Hammond for many years,” said agency spokeswoman Susan Saul. A thick file at refuge headquarters reveals just how patient refuge managers have been. Hammond allegedly made death threats against previous managers in 1986 and 1988 and against Cameron, the current manager, in 1991 and again this year. Saul said Hammond has never given the required 24 hours’ notice before moving his cows across the refuge and that he allowed the cows to linger for as long as three days, trespassing along streams and trampling young willows that refuge workers had planted to repair damage wrought by years of overgrazing.

Susie Hammond, Dwight’s wife, said the cattle trail is a “historic right of way” that has been in use since 1871. “We have never had a permit,” she said. “We have a right to use it.”

The American Land Rights Association had come to my attention several times prior to this, in an unlikely spot: our office’s Junk emailbox in our website contact email. Every once in a while I find a “Land Rights Network” email from this group, and being of a politically inquisitive mind, I read some and forwarded them home for further review. The most recent one came on December 22nd, regarding the Omnibus bill, asking ALRA members to contact their reps to oppose a permanent trust fund for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A brief excerpt:

“The LWCF is how the Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management buy millions of acres of private land and make it government land taking it off the tax rolls. It funds eminent domain (condemnation) by these agencies.”

[They very helpfully add, “You can find additional information about national issues and battles American Land Rights has been involved in by going to Google and typing in the following search terms one at a time: Chuck Cushman, Charles Cushman, Charles S. Cushman, American Land Rights Association, National Inholders Association and League of Private Property Voters.”]

The ALRA website also has a handy guide to the Hammond vs BLM history.

The only two staff members listed are:

Chuck Cushman, Founder and Executive Director:  “Through numerous successful political battles over the years dealing with Congress and various Federal agencies, Chuck was nicknamed by the press as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot” as a result of his aggressive and successful efforts to protect landowners and permittees from overreaching Federal, State and other land-use controllers.

Mike Hardiman, Washington, DC, Lobbyist  His “home page” says it all, in a strange sort of way: it’s nothing but glowing quotes from well-connected customers regarding his work for them, under the heading, “Project Management + Federal Contractor + Real Estate — which pretty much explains his involvement in the American Land Rights Association.  $Cha-Ching$

And a few of the organizations on the ALRA “friends” list (one of the few links on the site that actually worked) include many of the usual suspects with whom we are unfortunately familiar.

Accuracy in Media: “A news media watchdog group that challenges and correct [sic] the biased reporting of the American press.”  [IOW, they believe in the Myth of the Liberal Media, and way overcompensate to the Right.]

American Conservative Union:  “The nation’s oldest conservative lobbying organization. ACU’s purpose is to effectively communicate and advance the goals and principles of conservatism through one multi-issue, umbrella organization. ACU supports capitalism, a belief in the doctrine of original intent of the framers of the Constitution, confidence in traditional moral values, and a commitment to a strong national defense.”

American Enterprise Institute:  “Dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of freedom–limited government, private enterprise, vital cultural and political institutions, and a strong foreign policy and national defense–through scholarly research, open debate, and publications.”

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):  “The nation’s largest non-partisan, individual membership association of state legislators. Founded in 1973, ALEC is dedicated to developing and advancing policies based on the Jeffersonian principles of individual liberty, limited government, federalism and free markets.”

American Policy Center:  “APC advocates the free market as the best system yet devised to guarantee basic human needs. The free market, through its inherent system of checks and balances, including ownership of private property, is the best method for creating wealth, full employment, goods and services and protecting the environment…”

Americans for Tax Reform:   “A national clearinghouse for the grassroots taxpayers’ movement. ATR opposes all tax increases as a matter of principle. Supports tax reform which makes taxes fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower.”

Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise:  “A meeting place for the free enterprise community. A worldwide conversation on personal and economic freedom.”

Claremont Institute:  “The Claremont Institute finds the answers to America’s problems in the principles on which our nation was founded. To recover the Founding principles in our political life means recovering a limited and accounted government that respects private property, promotes stable family life and maintains a strong defense.”

Competitive Enterprise Institute:  “A pro-market, public policy group based in Washington DC committed to advancing the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Founded in 1984, CEI emphasizes the marketing and implementation of classical Libertarian ideals.”

Heartland Institute:  “A non-profit, non-partisan center for public policy research, focusing on free-market solutions to state and local public policy problems.”

Heritage Foundation:  “Created to spread the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”

Yeah, yeah, ‘capitalism’, ‘free enterprise’, ‘market solutions’, ‘limited government’, ‘strong national defense’, blah, blah, blah.   IOW, “BULLSHIT.”

Now, I’m not saying that the ALRA/Chuck Cushman and/or any of the groups listed above are behind the Hammond’s, or the Bundy family’s, scofflaw history.  But groups such as these are definitely enablers of this sort of flouting of Federal jurisdiction over public lands that we, the taxpayers, ALL own.

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

40 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, January 4th, 2016: This Land is Our Land, Too

  1. Does anyone here shop at Amazon? Most lefty talk shows have an Amazon ‘portal’ where a small portion of your purchase is commissioned back to that site. Check out to see if one of your favorites is on their list, and go to their site and see if they have an Amazon portal to funnel your purchase through. Your favorite not on the list? Use the easy link and let Nicole Sandler know and she’ll add them to TheLiberal.Media so others can find them too. It’s 2016, and we need to support our liberal media before it’s gone from the ethersphere!

      • Nicole just recently got that domain, and set up the site with all the different show sites that are still on the net now. It’s quite a collection.

        If you can’t decide on a specific site, Nicole’s site could use the commission. She just got married, and hers and David’s house is in foreclosure if they can’t get it refinanced. Nicole is loosely associated with Crooks and Liars, BTW, and she used to have John Amato and Nicole Belle on regularly. She’s had Karoli on a couple of times and has Driftglass and Bluegal on Thursday on alternating weeks with Harvey Kaye. She also has Howie Klein of Blue America Pac (with Amato and Digby) every week if he’s feeling well enough, so she keeps up with a lot of regular guests each week. She’s online only so the language can get sporty when called for. I like listening to her show as an alternative to Stephanie Miller, and you can still do the first hour of Stephanie because Nicole starts at ten am eastern. The chat room is fast paced during the show and a lot of fun.

  2. Religious Extremism Is At The Heart Of Militia Takeover Of Federal Building

    Bundy has called for “fellow patriots” to join him at the armed occupation. That call itself closely represents what Captain Moroni told his fellow Nephites in LDS scripture. And it’s part of the reason why “Captain Moroni” came to Burns.

    The man identifying as Captain Moroni said he was inspired by the call, and that the inspiration was validated by God in the form of a flock of geese he saw flying.

    “I just knew it was the right thing [to come to Oregon],” Captain Moroni said. “I’m willing to die here.”

    “Captain Moroni” is also the (most appropriately named) modern day’s representation of the angelic “Moroni” from the Book of Mor(m)on. Statues of Moroni, in fact, stand atop Mormon Temples in SLC and elsewhere.

  3. FBI now monitoring Oregon standoff that right-wing gunmen have plotted for weeks

    “It’s about this community being trampled on,” one of the organizers of a rally that preceded the standoff, who did not identify himself, said as he stood on the bed of a pickup in the parking lot of a Safeway supermarket.

    “This is the public saying we’re not going to take it anymore, we’ve had it … . The people of the republic are tired, and it starts right here in this parking lot, guys.”

    Those leading what amounts to an armed occupation at the small, remote building say they are the vanguard of a national movement to resist the government’s ownership of vast stretches of land in the West.

    AFAIC, and having watched the west’s remaining wild lands deteriorate for more than fifty years, I could very easily find myself in agreement with ANY proposition that would turn over every single vacant acre of land in the entire country to federal control, along with management that would deter any and all private “development” (read: destruction) of what’s left of what was once wild and free of human contamination. And yes, that would especially include western cattle ranch acreages. Let them eat cake.

  4. According to one of the patriotic terrorists, they don’t want another Ruby Ridge. So what do they do? They’re starting to move children onto the MNWR grounds. This should end well.

  5. Seems to me it should be fairly simple to handle sieges of this type in Oregon. Shouldn’t matter how many there are, how many guns, whatever. I know the “militia” nitwits have said they’re in there for as long as it takes, something like that, but that really shouldn’t amount to much. I’d think lack of food and water — should be fairly easy to arrange ‘out there’ in the wild — would probably end everything within the month even, and wouldn’t require even a single gunshot. Or maybe send in all the pizza and beer they can eat/drink but then shut down the sewer outlets? Sometimes guns aren’t really all that useful.

  6. We have Land Rights proponents here too, though they mostly confine themselves to protesting zoning regulations that prevent them from plunking a subdivision just anywhere they please. It seems to me that one should own the land before fussing about your right to use it as you please.

    • Yes, that would work. Providing, of course, that a whole lot of land remains forever ‘un-ownable’ and inviolably in the public domain. There are some places and some things that should forever be beyond human reach. Period. Zoning regulations, meanwhile, are a good thing, can act as a buffer between wild and privately held lands and as protection of privately held and nurtured open space from obscene development on its fringe.

      And yes, I admit it. I’m a socialist tree hugger and an “out there” addict. Was born that way, near as I can tell.

  7. We can blame much of the blame for this crap on the “librul media” and their insistence on turning the assault on Waco Texas into a failure of Clinton, Reno, and federal law enforcement in general. Federal law enforcement has been effectively neutered, when dealing with long-term standoffs, ever since. Unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters or “occupiers”? Send in the storm troopers. Armed rightwhiners? Just hope they get tired of their tantrum.

    • As I recall, the Clinton hating right wingers were the loudest voices calling for the ineffectual feds to quit sitting around and go in the Branch Davidian compound, much as they call for carpet bombing Syria now.

  8. From what I’ve read, the ranchers are ‘standing on the Constitution’.
    What part of the Constitution regulates what people can do on federal lands? Do they even understand that federal lands are owned by us, that is, all of US?
    And just because their cattle have been damaging the land since 1871, doesn’t mean they should have carte blanche to continue to utilize ‘our’ lands. Them lands ain’t theres.

    • Yes, the development of #yallqaeda waging it’s #yeehawd – if one of these wankers was named Mohammed or wore a ball cap reversed, you would bet they’d be in a morgue by now.

  9. Oh #yallqaeda is one reason why the Tweeter isn’t dead yet

    You can’t make this stuff up

    • He was for #Yallqaeda before he was agin’ it – in 2014 calling law enforcement the ‘jackboots of authoritarianism’) – don’t wait for Fuxnooz to call him on it though.

  10. That sound you hear is not, probably, the sound of distant thunder. It’s the sound of rightwhiners’ heads exploding because “Obama is taking our gunz”.

    I spent some time over the weekend with an old friend who has been convinced that the Democrats are out to outlaw hunting and take away his shotgun. He has also been convinced by far-right coworkers that Trumpy is just what this country needs. This actually ended up being a fruitful conversation. We got on the intertubes and I found a long list of quotes from Trumpy, before he was an official candidate, calling for stricter gun control far more strict than merely expanding background checks. He had not heard about that because, duh, the people feeding him information are getting said information from FAUX”News”. And then we received the news that a former acquaintance who I will call “X” (We were always friendly enough in our dealings but I never considered him a “friend” due to his hateful outlook on life.) had been arrested for getting drunk and firing “warning shots” at some noisy kids in the ally behind his apartment. This provided me with the perfect opportunity to ask him if he thought people were more or less safe if “X” is able to walk into any gun store in the country and buy military grade weapons. He pretty much had to agree that society is safer if “X” doesn’t have guns and that he would be willing to jump through a couple hoops to prevent people like “X” from legally buying guns. I think I will chalk up the whole exchange as a victory for the forces of reason.

      • “X” isn’t psychotic but he’s very, very, bitter and isolated. He’s around 50 and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, has never gotten laid. About 25 years ago we were drinking beer together and i told him to “stop by the cash machine and drive around Minneapolis until you see a girl in a short skirt standing in the street and get your rocks off for a few bucks”. His response was; “I don’t want to screw any ni99er or spic or gook”. (My apologies for using words that I don’t normally use.) Well? No amount of attempted camaraderie can overcome that kind of hatefulness. I just hope that he doesn’t get his substantial arsenal back because I could easily imagine him climbing a tower with all the guns and ammo he can carry and picking off random people in an attempt to quell his inner-pain.

    • The rightwhiners have completely ruined the game of; “I might be crazy but I’m not crazy enough to believe…?” If Lushbo or inSeannity claimed that Obama was filmed fucking a goat on the White House lawn, while eating a human fetus and lighting Christians on fire, at least 33% of Republicans, and 12% of Democrats, would BELIEVE they had actually watched it live on TV if not in person.

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