The Watering Hole, Saturday, March 5th, 2016: This Land Is Still Our Land

I’ve written before about the emails from the American Land Rights Association that somehow end up coming to my office, and how Charles Cushman has been involved with the Hammonds, the scofflaws whose imprisonment for starting fires on federal land provided the match that started the Malheur Wildlife Refuge ‘insurrection.’

Earlier this week another ‘newsletter’ email arrived, containing, in part, the following:

War In The West, the Hammond Story
Stop Land and Water Conservation Fund

The War In The West: Time To Stop Federal Land Acquisition

Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research 1/15/16

Media attention on the plight of Dwight and Steven Hammond in Burns, Oregon — sent to prison as “terrorists” — has focused more on the activities of some who have come to their “support” than on the cause of the broad-based unhappiness with the federal government.

But first it is important to clarify the Hammonds’ “crime.” Most reports note they were prosecuted for arson on federal lands. They were prosecuted under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed following the 1995 bombing of the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City. Bombing a federal building is an act of terrorism. Burning 140 acres of grass, sagebrush and weeds to halt wildfires and remove invasive brush is not terrorism.

Ranchers, farmers, foresters and miners homesteaded the West, often before government reached that far, or states or counties were created. The successors of these landowners are today surrounded by a sea of federal lands. Across the West over half the land and resources are owned by the federal government. In Oregon it owns 53 percent of the land, and 75 percent in Harney County, home of Burns and the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The county is over 10,000 square miles in size, larger than nine states. With a population of barely 7,000 people, it is effectively a federal colony, controlled and administered by the federal government.

The federal government owns 85 percent of the state of Nevada and 64 percent of both Utah and Idaho — effectively making rural landowners little more than serfs, precluding utilization of natural resources, reducing the tax base and impoverishing local and county governments, which are then unable to fund schools and police…

Evermore onerous government regulations make it difficult for landowners to use their lands and often next to impossible to cross the government lands on historic rights-of-way for access to water and grazing lands. Selective enforcement of laws like the Endangered Species Act can prevent landowners from using land that has no endangered species, but does have habitat the species could use if they were there…

Yet even with this hegemonic control of the rural West, the federal government continues to acquire more land. It is expert at making regulatory harassment so onerous that eventually farmers and ranchers simply give up and sell out to the government — becoming what the Feds euphemistically refer to as “willing sellers.”

Anger against such treatment arose during the Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1970s, when state governments demanded a return of their land and resources and equality with states in the East. That opposition to federal ownership was tempered by the Reagan Administration’s easing of the regulatory regime.

But as the federal government has accelerated its efforts to acquire more land and force people off their lands, mounting opposition and calls for change have flourished. Another Sagebrush Rebellion is underway, headed by counties and state legislatures. Several Western states have introduced legislation demanding the return of their lands. Both houses in Utah have passed such legislation and Governor Herbert has signed the law.

It is time to place a moratorium on any additional land acquisition by the federal government, to undertake an inventory of government landownership at all levels, and to begin taking steps towards devolution of federal ownership and return the lands and resources to responsible and caring ownership and stewardship. This would not threaten genuine environmental amenities and values.

America has a long tradition of successful private ownership of wildlife refuges, parks, and forests. If, for instance, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were owned by a conservation organization, such as an Audubon Society, it would not be able to bully and harass its farming and ranching neighbors who willingly share their lands with the wildlife, but would have to deal with them in a legal and peaceful manner — while still protecting the wildlife.

It is ironic that Americans are still fighting colonial subjugation by a hegemonic government — located now in Washington, D.C., rather that England. James Madison wrote: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort.” That is what Oregon is really about.”

There was a lot more about related topics, but the above is enough for the time being. The missive ends with:

“Google Alert: 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.”

Well, actually, no you CAN’T find additional information, because if you type in those search terms, they all lead back to the American Land Rights Association–some directly, some by a more circuitous route. I tried to do a bit more digging.

According to Buzzfile, the “Business Description” of the American Land Rights Association is:

“American Land Rights Association, which also operates under the name National Inholders Association, is located in Battle Ground, Washington. This organization primarily operates in the Business Associations business / industry within the Membership Organizations sector. This organization has been operating for approximately 44 years. American Land Rights Association is estimated to generate $500,000 in annual revenues, and employs approximately 6 people at this single location.”

Okay…so what does the category “Membership Organization” mean?

“The Membership Organizations sector covers 7 categories including Professional Organizations, Labor Organizations, and Political Organizations.

[Emphasis mine.]

Alright…a little more digging…how about, who is the “League of Private Property Voters”?

VoteSmart.Org says:

“Description:
“LPPV is a coalition of more than 800 grassroots organizations that advocate the rights of property owners, including farmers, ranchers, woodlot owners, residents of rural communities, owners of recreational property, and inholders of private property located within and adjacent to federal lands. It also includes cabin permittees, off-road vehicle owners, equestrians, snowmobilers, hunters and recreational shooters, and livestock grazers, foresters and miners who make productive use of federal lands.”

I found a ‘biography’ of Mr. Cushman – a bit outdated, but quite telling – oh, and this ‘biography’ has him at “Property Rights Foundation of America”(R):

“April 1999
Chuck Cushman is the executive director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA), formerly the National Inholders Association, which is a public interest advocacy organization that works to protect landowners across America who are affected by various growth management schemes as well as the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act (wetlands) and other Federal land use regulatory laws.

Mr. Cushman is also the Chairman of the League of Private Property Voters (LPPV), which was organized in 1990 to develop and publish the Private Property Congressional Vote Index, a Congressional vote scorecard designed to let the public know how each Congressman and Senator voted on important land-use issues. Almost 500,000 copies were distributed in 1996.

Referred to in various press reports as the “Desert Fox” and “Mr. Rent-A-Riot,” Mr. Cushman has worked over 24 years to help local communities get on the political playing field and compete effectively with Federal agencies and extreme environmental groups who seek to eliminate private uses and public access from “their” lands. He is widely respected for his successful leadership of local communities against those groups and individuals who seek to remove inholders and multiple-users by condemnation or whatever other means they can achieve.

He has written numerous articles on inholder rights; lectured at colleges and universities; appeared as an expert guest on Late Night America, Today on NBC, All Things Considered on public radio, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC news; been a subject of segments of 60 Minutes, The Newshour with Jim Lehrer and CNN Presents; has been featured in numerous national magazines regarding land-use issues; appeared as guest speaker before hundreds of multiple-use and private property advocacy groups and political interest organizations.

ALRA and LPPV have become significant players in land use and private property issues throughout the United States. ALRA has 18,000 members in 50 states and is acknowledged as a successful advocate for property owners and users of Federal and state lands in all manner of natural resource areas across America.”

If they’re the same organization, and it appears that they are, how have ALRA and LPPV “become significant players” – especially when, as I found in my previous post on ALRA, there appears to be only two employees, one of whom is Charles Cushman?

I next tried looking into the National Center for Public Policy Research. Wikipedia says:

“NCPPR’s work is in the areas of environmental, retirement security, regulatory, economic, and foreign affairs. Particular areas of interest include global warming, endangered species, energy policy, environmental justice, property rights, legal reform, Medicare reform, health care, Social Security, civil rights, foreign affairs/defense and United Nations reform/withdrawal…

NCPPR is a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition, whose object is described as “dispelling the myths of global warming by exposing flawed economic, scientific, and risk analysis”.

Amy Moritz Ridenour was and is still, as far as I can tell, the president of NCPPR. Amy has previously been on the wrong side of some major issues, i.e., writing op-eds on behalf of Big Tobacco. And, boy howdy, look who used to be a board member of the NCPPR: the infamous Jack Abramoff, lobbyist extraordinaire.

“Disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was a member of NCPPR’s Board of Directors; he resigned in October 2004 after NCPPR’s Board of Directors concluded he had violated the organization’s conflict of interest policy.

In October 2002, Abramoff directed the Mississippi Band of Choctaws to give $1 million to NCPPR, and then told Amy Ridenour to distribute the funds to Capital Athletic Foundation ($450,000), Capitol Campaign Strategies ($500,000) and Nurnberger and Associates ($50,000). In June 2003, Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed Abramoff, sent $1.5 million to NCPPR, of which Ridenour distributed $250,000 to Capital Athletic Foundation and the remainder to Kay Gold LLC, both controlled by Abramoff. Ridenour said in testimony that she believed Abramoff co-conspirator Michael Scanlon was the owner of Kay Gold (Kaygold).

The Wiki page for Amy Ridenour includes:

“According to Nina Easton’s Gang of Five, Amy Moritz was a veteran organizer of the College Republican National Committee. She was a candidate in 1981 for election as national chairman of the organization, opposed by Jack Abramoff.
Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist persuaded Moritz to drop out of the race by promising her the appointed position of executive director. With the only serious competitor out of the way, Abramoff won the election easily.

Although Moritz was later rebuffed by the “Abramoff-Norquist-Reed triumvirate” and only given the titular position of “deputy director”, she continued to work with the group and became a good friend of Norquist. Abramoff would also later become a director of the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

Lastly, on a whim, I decided to simply put in a search for “Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research” – and laughed when the only relevant result was a link to the same diatribe that ALRA sent, as posted at – wait for it – The Daily Caller.

The kicker was a comment posted at the Daily Caller thread by none other than Amy Ridenour:

Amy Ridenour [to] Esef Brewer • 2 months ago
You’re not the most clever bird in the nest, are you? Try hunting and fishing or even walking on many federal lands sometime and learn the hard way.

One might have thought that someone who helped bilk Native American tribes out of millions of dollars really shouldn’t be commenting about “federal lands” on a public forum…but then, The Daily Caller isn’t all that popular a public forum, which means that Amy is right at home there.

This is our daily Open Thread – I’ve had enough delving for today, now it’s your turn to talk.

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.

The Watering Hole; Thursday April 17 2014; GOP’s Task: To Meld Ends – with Beginnings

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
(Winston Churchill, 9 November 1942)

******

Every now and then I stumble across a random parcel of tidbits that invariably brings to mind, for whatever reason, a line from the 1950’s WWII movie South Pacific, words spoken by ‘the Frenchman’ character and plantation owner Emile de Becque to the island’s American military commander, Navy Captain George Brackett: “I know what you are against,” de Becque begins, but what are you FOR?”

The following is courtesy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and includes, in Bernie’s words, just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on [as VP candidate] in 1980.” Note there’s not a word in all that Sanders quotes that would be in any way alien to this day’s Republican/Tea Party docket, and note too that it still, this day, most ably summarizes at least the bulk of the agenda of David Koch and his  Brother Charles, not to mention that of numerous other radical right billionaire financiers. The underlined highlights are mine, but everything else is exactly as originally published some 34 years ago. 

• “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”

• “We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”

• “We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”

• “We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”

• “We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”

• “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”

• “We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”

• “We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”

• “As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”

• “We support repeal of all law which impedes the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”

• “We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”

• “We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”

• “We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”

• “We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

• “We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”

• “We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”

• “We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”

• “We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”

• “We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.” • “We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”

• “We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”

• “We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”

• “We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”

• “We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

• “We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”

• “We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

Makes one think Paul Ryan had a copy of that in front of him when he wrote his recent Federal budget proposition. On the other hand and as per Emile de Becque, we do now indeed know what they are AGAINST, and that includes ANY government support of any kind in any way of: fair elections and voting rights; granting medical care assistance of any kind to anyone in need; Social Security; the US Postal Service; ALL taxation, no exceptions; public education (read: “indoctrination”) subsidies at any level, including Kindergarten-College; “compulsory education laws”; environmental protection (EPA); energy regulation (DOE); all public transportation including trains, buses, also publicly owned and maintained rails, roads and highways, even inland waterways; safety mandates of any kind, including those implicit in seat belts & helmets; the FAA; the FDA; “all government welfare, relief projects, and aid to the poor programs;” OSHA; Consumer Product Safety Commission.

A pair of unmentioned hate- and fear-based issues which are particularly popular today are gun control and gay marriage. It’s probably fair to note that, esp. on the gun control issues, the cited document dates back to 1980, BEFORE John Hinkley Jr. shot President Reagan and BEFORE the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act became the law of the land, so perhaps their silence is understandable. The question of allowing/legalizing gay marriage was not, as far as I can recall, much of a vocal issue back then, and certainly NOT the product of our ‘runaway anti-Christian tyrannical government’ as many on the right claim to view the matter today.

On the other hand, today’s version of de Becque’s question still stands: what are they FOR? In their words they are for only the concepts (and consequences) embedded in their words: “repeal, abolish/abolition, dissolution, deregulate, terminate, condemn, privatization, and, why not, state usury,” along with, of course, the power and wealth acquisition implicit in ALL the above. To anyone who’s been watching the evolution of the American political scene over the last three-plus decades, the “points” as spelled out above are totally familiar; many of them have, in fact, either been advanced by the Republican/Tea Party congressionals or, if not formally introduced, they are all-too-frequently talked about and encouraged publicly, and often even demanded . . . with all due vitriol.

In summation, the above-cited 1980 Libertarian Party platform has IN FACT become today’s RADICAL RIGHT WING formula for, at the very least, preparing the “legal” means of turning the country and virtually ALL of its resources over to special interests, to the (mostly white, of course) power-hungry wealthy, and in the process relieving the once vast middle class — along with the ever-increasing numbers of working poor and unemployed — of any chance at ever living a productive life, much less of accumulating anything of lasting value to pass on to their progeny. And though said platform doesn’t even mention, much less address the concept “provide for the common defense,” it does implicitly suggest the repeal of (at least) the US Constitution’s Preamble propositions including “to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, . . . promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” — in other words, to effectively dismiss the words “We the people” and substitute, instead, ‘we the proud, the lust-filled, greedy, slothful, envious and wrath possessed gluttonous rich and powerful’ — etc. Senator Sanders put it this way:

“The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country” and that “It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.”

It is, I suppose, fair to note that nowhere in the cited 1980 Libertarian (read: conservative) platform does it mention the privilege implicit in MONEY, nor does it demand that MONEY be THE yardstick when it comes to the grant of privilege (including even, strangely enough, the right to vote). Suffice to note, however, that in recent years the SCOTUS has amply addressed those issues by (1) their decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon, and (2) in their dismissal of a major portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The collective result of those three (5-4) decisions has (a) nearly completely overturned all Campaign Finance legislation designed to minimize the impact the influence on elections of ‘Big Money’ and preserve the Democratic privilege of ‘one person one vote’, even as it has allowed the various states to legislatively impose the means of DENYING that ‘one vote’ to factions of those people who tend to vote for other than radical right candidates.

A close-up review of the above-mentioned policy proclamations as ‘platform’ does, however, reveal the absence of one ultimately necessary tidbit: nowhere (perhaps for obvious reasons), is that one missing detail either (yet) spoken of or insisted upon. The late Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, described “it” — its whats, its whys, and its hows — in a March, 2005 speech on the US Senate floor when he said (underlines/highlights mine):

“But witness how men with motives and a majority can manipulate law to cruel and unjust ends. Historian Alan Bullock writes that Hitler’s dictatorship rested on the constitutional foundation of a single law, the Enabling Law. Hitler needed a two-thirds vote to pass that law, and he cajoled his opposition in the Reichstag to support it. Bullock writes that “Hitler was prepared to promise anything to get his bill through, with the appearances of legality preserved intact.” And he succeeded.

“Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his revolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side. Instead, he turned the law inside out and made illegality legal.

FINALLY!! — and after all these 80 long and desolate years of progressive-liberal-socialist-Marxist-caring-for-others nonsense, there it is: the means to Meld Ends — With Beginnings!! And the process is SO SIMPLE!! Revolt WITH the Power of the State!! Use “the cloak of legality” to make “illegality legal”!!! — and then go for it! Return to 1980!! LIBERTY!! And then, LET THE REVOLUTION BEGIN! 

For current informational details on right wing progress, feel free to contact (to name but a small handful of radical right celebs) Reince Priebus, or Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Paul Broun, Rick Perry, Louie Gohmert, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Scott Brown, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Paul LePage, Mike Lee, Darrell Issa, Cory Gardner, Ron Johnson, or even Nevada wingnut “welfare” rancher Cliven Bundy . . . et al. et al. et al. Take your pick; ask for details from any one or all rabid right wingers whose sole goal in life appears to be nothing more than to “Make illegality legal”!!! 

So. Where are we? We have obviously traversed and passed the end of the beginning and are now clearly standing at the rear portal that defines the beginning of the end. Just the other day, in fact, Think Progress reported that Wisconsin Republican Committee Voted To Uphold ‘Wisconsin’s Right …To Secede’, and included in said report was one very telling statement, one which brusquely points to the fact that “Though there is no shortage of irony to the Party of Lincoln now morphing into the Party of Secession, this Wisconsin resolution is part of a larger pattern of conservatives questioning the legitimacy of the United States as a nation. Indeed. And a day or two ago, Nevada welfare rancher Cliven Bundy restated that same premise with near perfection when he said, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.” And right wing radicals everywhere, including those on Fox news, cheered him; many anti-government ‘militiamen’ even showed up on his ranch bearing fully loaded assault weapons, apparently ready to fight that ‘final battle’ against the tyrannical government of the United States, against We the people.

Stated another way,

The “end of the beginning”
now become
“the beginning of the end”

Final question for the Kochs and for Republicans, Teabaggers, and radical right wing neo-Fascists everywhere: I know what you are against, but what are you REALLY for? When you question the legitimacy of the United States as a nation, does that mean that each and all of your attacks on the Constitution and on each and every policy that benefits We the people are solid pieces of evidence that your ultimate goal is to destroy the United States as it currently exists?

I think the technical term for that is Sedition.

Another sip of KOCH, anyone?

O*P*E*N T*H*R*E*A*D