James Clapper Embarks on Propaganda College Speaking Tour After Droves of Students Name Snowden “Personal Hero”

Kevin Gosztola over at Firedoglake does some excellent work, and his latest story about the recent activities of perjuring Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., James Clapper, is no exception. To provide a little context, the Washington Post recently reported that:

Freitag skimmed the extracurriculars, read the first essay, rated it good. GW also asks students to list a role model and two words to describe themselves. As for herself, Freitag said, she would list “Martha Stewart/Tina Fey” and “sassy/classy.”This year, she’s seeing a lot of Edward Snowden citations.

Freitag is an admissions officer at George Washington University, and apparently this trend of college students accurately identifying Edward Snowden as a hero haS given James Clapper a panic attack. So much so, that he is taking time away from protecting us from “terrorists” (a term that now apparently includes folks at the Bundy Ranch according to Harry Reid) to embark upon a propaganda speaking tour of U.S. college campuses to demonstrate to those silly young kids that Snowden is no hero, but actually a traitorous villain.

This whole thing is eerily similar to Banana Ben Bernanke’s college propaganda tour back in 2012, which demonstrates that the status quo simply has one playbook that it sticks to aggressively. The only question I have is how long before Clapper realizes he can earn $250,000 a speech once he leaves his current role, as Benny Bernanke is currently raking in.

From Firedoglake:

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is touring universities and colleges in the United States in an attempt to persuade students that they should not consider former NSA contractor Edward Snowden a whistleblower or a hero.

Speaking at the GEOINT conference in Tampa, Florida, on April 15, Clapper addressed attendees and told university students at Georgetown University and the University of Georgia about a recent article in The Washington Post on college admissions.

“An admissions officer from George Washington University told The Post that for the admissions’ essay question, ‘Who’s your personal hero?’ the admissions officer observed that she was seeing a lot more of Edward Snowden citations. And the idea that young people see Edward Snowden as a hero really bothers me. So I thought I needed to talk about Snowden at Georgetown and Georgia and I am going to do the same elsewhere at colleges and universities.”

Seems like a great way to spend your time and taxpayer dollars.

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The “War on Street Artists” – Puppeteer Unlawfully Arrested and Harassed in NYC Subway

The following story is the latest in a series of articles I have written recently highlighting the over-prosecution and legal harassment of the poor and disenfranchised across the USA. While wealthy white collar criminals rape and pillage society with total immunity, those who have no voice are being increasingly stomped down upon by an unjust system. Some recent articles on the topic can read below:

Hyper-Sensitive Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account

Charleston Man Receives $525 Federal Fine for Failing to Pay for a $0.89 Refill

The Homeless in NYC Are Now Living in Tiny Spaces in the Frame of the Manhattan Bridge

In some of these cases, there is a ridiculous law on the books to allow such over-prosecution or harassment, while other times, such as in the case below, the cops appear to be making shit up and are acting completely outside of the law.

As someone who grew up in New York City and lived there for 28 years, I am quite familiar with street artists in America’s largest metropolis.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed them. Some are extremely talented, others not so much, but they always added to the unique character of the city and only rarely posed any sort of threat or engaged in threatening behavior. This is why the following story and video really struck an emotional chord with me and I became overcome with sadness. In so many ways, what happened to Kalan Sherrard is what is happening to our country and culture in general. We are being collectively transformed into drugged out, bland, soulless zombies by a parasitic and incredibly corrupt financial system coupled with unrelenting corporate and government propaganda. Anyone who is interesting or stands out is shouted down by the establishment as a “conspiracy theorist,” a “radical,” or as Harry Reid himself recently stated, a “domestic terrorist.”

Make no mistake about it, what just happened to Kalan Sherrard is happening to us all. It’s just that many of us don’t see it yet.

The New York Daily News reports that:

Kalan Sherrard was in the middle of another of his nihilist-anarchist puppet shows in the Times Square subway station April 6 when cops slapped him in cuffs and charged him with disorderly conduct for creating a hazardous condition.

Now, the performance artist from outside Seattle is considering a lawsuit against the NYPD for what he considers an unlawful arrest. The episode was captured by a friend filming a documentary of the show, which Sherrard refers to as “not happenings.”

“It’s obvious in the video I’m not impeding anybody’s access,” he said. “They told me I was violating subway rules, but when I asked what rules they wouldn’t tell me.”

An NYPD spokeswoman confirmed the arrest.

“He was observed obstructing the free flow of traffic at the subway,” the spokeswoman said. “He was placing dolls and objects on the mezzanine walkway.” 

When you watch the video you can see clearly he wasn’t obstructing anything and it was 1am.

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Mortgage Standards Are Plunging – It’s Muppet Fleecing Time All Over Again

In February, I highlighted the fact that subprime loans were about to make a return in my piece: Subprime Mortgages are Back…This Time Marketed as “Second Chance Purchase Programs.” In that article, I posited that with the “all cash” private equity shops and hedge funds no longer able to make good returns through buying new homes to rent, these investors would need some sucker to sell to in order to realize a return (Blackstone’s purchases have plunged 70% recently). That sucker, as always, will be the retail muppets, and those muppets will be lured in through subprime. This is now starting to happen in earnest.

The following article from the Wall Street Journal is both depressing and disturbing. Rather than allowing home prices to reset at a lower level after the 2008 crash where to normal buyers could afford a sane 20% mortgage, our central planners decided to do “whatever it takes” to re-inflate the housing bubble. This was achieved through wealthy investment pools buying properties for all cash. The trouble is, with home prices now inflated by these financial buyers and no real increase in wages, homes are simply unaffordable. So what do you do? You bring back subprime and get the peasants long real estate with essentially zero money down all over again. Truly remarkable.

From the Wall Street Journal:

While standards remain tight by historical measures, lenders have started to accept lower credit scores and to reduce down-payment requirements.

One such lender is TD Bank, Toronto-Dominion Bank’s U.S. unit, which on Friday began accepting down payments as low as 3% through an initiative called “Right Step,” geared toward first-time buyers and low- and moderate-income buyers. TD initially launched the program last year with a 5% down payment. It keeps the product on its books and doesn’t charge for insurance. Borrowers also don’t need to put down any of their own cash if a family, state or nonprofit group provides a down-payment gift.

So a measly 5% downpayment wasn’t good enough. They had to drop it to 3%. Frightening.

The changes also are a recognition by lenders that the business of refinancing old mortgages, which had been a huge profit center for banks, is nearly tapped out. To generate future profits, banks will have to compete for borrowers who may not have perfect credit or large down payments.

Valley National Bank, a community bank based in Wayne, N.J., lowered down-payment requirements to 5% from 25% this month on mortgages for certain buyers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Next month, Arlington Community Federal Credit Union, based in Arlington, Va., will begin accepting 3% down payments on mortgages up to $417,000, down from 5%.

Yes, you read that right, 25% to 5%. Holy fuck.

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Hyper-Sensitive Illinois Mayor Orders Police Raid Over Parody Twitter Account

Just yesterday, I wrote a post about how a South Carolina construction worker was fined $525 and lost his job for not paying $0.89 for a drink refill while working at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston. The point was to emphasize how the law comes down with a devastating vengeance when an average citizen commits a minor crime, yet allows the super rich to loot and pillage with zero repercussions. There is now a systemic two-tier justice system operating in these United States, and the result will unquestionably be tyranny if the trend continues unabated.

The latest example of a lowly citizen being subject to a disproportionate use of the law, is Jon Daniel of Peoria, Illinois. Jon was behind a parody Twitter account that mocked Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, and his biggest mistake was not making it clear that it was a parody. As a result, Twitter had already suspended the account weeks ago. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

The tough guy mayor was so offended that a plebe would dare criticize his royal highness that he ordered a police raid on the home of Jon Daniel and his roommates. Peoria native, Justin Glawe wrote an excellent article on the subject for Vice. He writes:

Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.

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Charleston Man Receives $525 Federal Fine for Failing to Pay for a $0.89 Refill

Some of you may wonder why of all the stories out there today I decided to focus on the $525 fine a construction worker in South Carolina received a for refilling his drink without paying. The reason is to highlight the difference between what happens when a peasant breaks the law versus when a banker does it.

In this case, citizen Christopher Lewis refilled his drink without paying at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston. For this horrific offense (a refill costs $0.89), he was hauled into a room by the Federal Police Force and given a ticket for $525. Even worse, he was told not to ever come back to the premises, so he ended up losing his job as well.

So for this undoubtably minor offense, Mr. Lewis received a fine almost 600x greater than the cost of the crime and lost his ability to support himself. Compare that to the slap on the wrist banks receive when they are caught engaging in criminal behavior that leads to the theft of billions of dollars. At the worst, they pay a fine that is only a fraction of the profits and no one goes to jail, so the law actually incentivizes major financial crime. Meanwhile, if a peasant steps out of line, even for the most minor offense, the full brute force of federal law comes down like a ton of bricks. This is one of the main reasons why the social fabric of society is being torn apart, and unfortunately, there will be a hefty price to pay for it in the future.

This is a theme I have written about time and time again, most recently in a two part series, which I suggest reading:

Some Money Launderers are “More Equal” than Others

Some Money Launderers are More Equal than Others Part 2 – CEO of BitInstant is Arrested

From WCSC News we learn that:

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A North Charleston man was hit with a federal fine for refilling his drink without paying. The on-site construction worker says he didn’t know refills at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston came at a price, and Wednesday, during his lunch hour, he was slapped with federal charges.

The ticket was issued by the Federal Police Force at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston after Christopher Lewis refilled his soda without paying the $0.89. A hospital spokesperson called it a “theft of government property.”

“Every time I look at the ticket, it’s unbelievable to me,” says Lewis, who works construction. “I can’t fathom the fact that I made a $0.89 mistake that cost me $525.”

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New Report from Princeton and Northwestern Proves It: The U.S. is an Oligarchy

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

- From a recent study titled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University

In response to the publication of an academic study that essentially proves the United States is nothing more than an oligarchy, many commentators have quipped sentiments that go something like “so tell me something I don’t know.” While I agree that the conclusion is far from surprising to anyone paying attention, the study is significant for two main reasons.  

First, there is a certain influential segment of the population which has a disposition which requires empirical evidence and academic studies before they will take any theory seriously. Second, some of the conclusions can actually prove quite helpful to activists who want to have a greater impact in changing things. This shouldn’t be particularly difficult since their impact at the moment is next to zero.

What is most incredible to me is that the data under scrutiny in the study was from 1981-2002. One can only imagine how much worse things have gotten since the 2008 financial crisis. The study found that even when 80% of the population favored a particular public policy change, it was only instituted 43% of the time. We saw this first hand with the bankster bailout in 2008, when Americans across the board were opposed to it, but Congress passed TARP anyway (although they had to vote twice).

Even more importantly, several years of supposed “economic recovery” has not changed the public’s perception of the bankster bailouts. For example, a 2012 study showed that only 23% percent of Americans favored the bank bailouts and the disgust was completely bipartisan, as the Huffington Post points out. 

Personally, I think the banker bailouts will go down as one of the most significant turning points in American history. Despite widespread disapproval, Congress passed TARP and it was at that moment that many Americans “woke up” to the fact they are nothing more than economic slaves with no voice. That they are serfs. Even more importantly, once oligarchs saw what they could get away with they kept doubling down and doubling down until we find ourselves in the precarious position we are in today. A society filled with angst and resentment at the fact that the 0.01% have stolen everything.

Another thing that the study noted was that average citizens sometimes got what they wanted, but this is almost always when their preferences overlap with the oligarchs. When this occurs it is entirely coincidental, and in many cases may the result of public opinion being molded by the elite-controlled special interest groups themselves. How pathetic.

I read the entire 42 page study and have highlighted what I found to be the key excerpts below. Please share with others and enjoy:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

Until very recently, however, it has been impossible to test the differing predictions of these theories against each other within a single statistical model that permits one to analyze the independent effects of each set of actors upon policy outcomes.

A major challenge to majoritarian pluralist theories, however, is posed by Mancur Olson’s argument that collective action by large, dispersed sets of individuals with individually small but collectively large interests tends to be prevented by the “free rider” problem. Barring special circumstances (selective incentives, byproducts, coercion), individuals who would benefit from collective action may have no incentive to personally form or join an organized group. If everyone thinks this way and lets George do it, the job is not likely to get done. This reasoning suggests that Truman’s “potential groups” may in fact be unlikely to form, even if millions of  peoples’ interests are neglected or harmed by government. Aware of the collective action problem, officials may feel free to ignore much of the population and act against the interests of the average citizen.

As to empirical evidence concerning interest groups, it is well established that organized groups regularly lobby and fraternize with public officials; move through revolving doors between public and private employment; provide self-serving information to officials; draft legislation; and spend a great deal of money on election campaigns. Moreover, in harmony with theories of biased pluralism, the evidence clearly indicates that most U.S. interest groups and lobbyists represent business firms or professionals. Relatively few represent the poor or even the economic interests of ordinary workers, particularly now that the U.S. labor movement has become so weak.

What makes possible an empirical effort of this sort is the existence of a unique data set, compiled over many years by one of us (Gilens) for a different but related purpose: for estimating the influence upon public policy of “affluent” citizens, poor citizens, and those in the middle of the income distribution.

Gilens and a small army of research assistants gathered data on a large, diverse set of policy cases: 1,779 instances between 1981 and 2002 in which a national survey of the general public asked a favor/oppose question about a proposed policy change.

In any case, the imprecision that results from use of our “affluent” proxy is likely to produce underestimates of the impact of economic elites on policy making. If we find substantial effects upon policy even when using this imperfect measure, therefore, it will be reasonable to infer that the impact upon policy of truly wealthy citizens is still greater.

Some particular U.S. membership organizations – especially the AARP and labor unions– do tend to favor the same policies as average citizens. But other membership groups take stands that are unrelated (pro-life and pro-choice groups) or negatively related (gun owners) to what the average American wants. Some membership groups may reflect the views of corporate backers or their most affluent constituents. Others focus on issues on which the public is fairly evenly divided. Whatever the reasons, all mass-based groups taken together simply do not add up, in aggregate, to good representatives of the citizenry as a whole. Business-oriented groups do even worse, with a modest negative over-all correlation of -.10.

The estimated impact of average citizens’ preferences drops precipitously, to a non-significant, near-zero level. Clearly the median citizen or “median voter” at the heart of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy does not do well when put up against economic elites and organized interest groups. The chief predictions of pure theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy can be decisively rejected. Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions; they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.

By contrast, economic elites are estimated to have a quite substantial, highly significant, independent impact on policy. This does not mean that theories of Economic Elite Domination are wholly upheld, since our results indicate that individual elites must share their policy influence with organized interest groups. Still, economic elites stand out as quite influential – more so than any other set of actors studied here – in the making of U.S. public policy.

The incredible thing here is that they use the 90th percentile to gauge the “economic elite,” when we well know that it is the “oligarchs” themselves and the businesses they run that call all the shots. It would have been interesting if they isolated the impact of the 0.01%.

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FBI Plans to Have 52 Million Photos in Facial Recognition Database by 2015

I have highlighted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and it great work on this website on many occasions. The organization has been at the forefront of many privacy and civil liberties related issues, including the increasing use of drones by the U.S. government domestically, unconstitutional NSA spying, as well as a host of other issues.

The latest article from them that caught my attention was published a couple of days ago, and shines light on the disturbing push by the FBI to create an extensive facial recognition database, which will include criminal and non-criminal photos alike. The information received by the EFF via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demonstrates that the feds may have a mugshot database with up to 52 million photos by 2015.

The program is called Next Generation Identification (NGI), and the aspect of it that bothers the EFF most is the fact that non-criminal and criminal photos will be combined in the same database. So someone who has no criminal record can suddenly be flagged as a suspect just because an algorithm says so. What’s worst, research shows that the potential for false positive identification increases as the dataset increases.

To see if your state is participating, take a look at this map courtesy of the EFF.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 10.52.50 AM

More from the EFF:

New documents released by the FBI show that the Bureau is well on its way toward its goal of a fully operational face recognition database by this summer.

EFF received these records in response to our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for information on Next Generation Identification (NGI)—the FBI’s massive biometric database that may hold records on as much as one third of the U.S. population. The facial recognition component of this database poses real threats to privacy for all Americans.

NGI builds on the FBI’s legacy fingerprint database—which already contains well over 100 million individual records—and has been designed to include multiple forms of biometric data, including palm prints and iris scans in addition to fingerprints and face recognition data. NGI combines all these forms of data in each individual’s file, linking them to personal and biographic data like name, home address, ID number, immigration status, age, race, etc. This immense database is shared with other federal agencies and with the approximately 18,000 tribal, state and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.

The records we received show that the face recognition component of NGI may include as many as 52 million face images by 2015.
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How the CEO of HFT Firm Virtu Financial is Demanding a Taxpayer Bailout in Florida

What the financial crisis, subsequent taxpayer bailouts, zero prosecutions of financial industry participants and further consolidation of the economy by oligarchs has taught us more than anything else is that the super rich and politically connected are not allowed to fail. Apparently, this may also apply to the head of one of the largest firms in what is quickly becoming the most despised “industry” in the nation.

By now, pretty much everyone in America knows about Michael Lewis’ book Flash Boys, which exposes the high frequency trading (HFT) industry for the money-sucking parasite it is. However, what will really get your blood boiling, particularly if you live in Florida, is how the CEO of one of the biggest players in the HFT space, Virtu Financial, is looking for taxpayers to bail-out his poorly performing investment in the Florida Panther NFL hockey franchise. This takes having “some nerve” to a whole new level of absurdity.

From Bloomberg:

Vincent Viola, whose high-frequency trading firm plans to raise millions of dollars in an initial public offering next month, is seeking tax dollars to help cover the bills for the Florida Panthers hockey team he bought six months ago.

Viola asked lawmakers in South Florida’s Broward County to use $64 million in taxpayer funds for arena bond payments owed by the team, which says it’s losing money as attendance has fallen to a 14-year low. Officials in Broward, which encompasses Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast, disagree on how to proceed, with some saying that if they don’t pick up the tab, the team may move and leave taxpayers with $225 million in debt and an empty arena.

Sounds a lot like the nonsense we all head that went something like “we must bail-out and not regulate banking criminals otherwise they will leave the U.S.” Oh the horror, these crooks might take their organized crime elsewhere…

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The Homeless in NYC Are Now Living in Tiny Spaces in the Frame of the Manhattan Bridge

I just got back to Colorado from 10 days in my hometown of New York City. It’s always fun to see friends and family as well as take stock of how much things have changed since I left. There is no question about it, NYC feels more like “Disneyland for Wall Street” than ever before. The very rich are doing very well, everyone else, not so much. We are often told by charlatans and mainstream media propagandists that this mythical rising tide of wealth lifts all boats. If that’s the case, I find it quite perplexing that the homeless population in America’s financial center is exploding five years into the so-called recovery. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that 22% of the city is on food stamps.

How is this possible? Because we have witnessed five years of egregious corruption and crony capitalist theft, not a genuine recovery. That’s how.

The war on the homeless has been accelerating in recent years, as city officials across the nation would rather hide the problem that admit the economic recovery is bullshit. In most cases, the measures are subtle, but have the desired effect of pushing homeless people away from public view (in Columbia, South Carolina it is not so subtle and you need a $120 weekly permit to feed the homeless). NYC officials are a bit more nuanced. For example, I was shocked to see a sign posted in a park in Manhattan that said adults can’t come in without children. It looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 10.25.22 AM

No matter what spin somebody may put on this, the primary goal is to keep homeless people away.

I grew up in New York City and was a toddler in the early 1980′s, not exactly the safest period in the city. I remember playing in the parks around my parents’ apartment and there were homeless people everywhere. It was a part of my childhood for better or worse, but it was reality. I think I was better off knowing the homeless existed than if they had all been pushed away to the outskirts and everyone pretended they weren’t there.

The thing is, many of the very wealthy in New York City want to believe this bullshit story that things are generally getting better. Meanwhile, the statistics speak for themselves, and according to HUD, the homeless population in NYC increased 13% last year. That’s quite disturbing five years into raging bull market for stocks.

Moving along, we now we find that homeless people are living in coffin-sized spaces inside the frame of the Manhattan Bridge.

From the New York Post:

Crafty hobos are turning the Manhattan Bridge into a veritable shantytown, complete with elaborate plywood shacks that are truly “must see to believe.”

One of the coffin-sized living spaces — which have been built into the bridge frame near the Manhattan entrance — is secured with a flimsy bike lock and bolted to a metal beam by its inhabitant.

The pods are built into the underside of the upper deck, below car traffic but above the subway and bike lanes.

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Why the Standoff at the Bundy Ranch is a Very Big Deal

If you haven’t been following the unfolding drama at the Bundy Ranch about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas you need to start now. The escalating confrontation between irate local residents and federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the potential to take a very dangerous turn for the worse at any moment, as hundreds of militia members from states across the country are expected to descend upon the area and make a stand with 67-year-old Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy.

Before I get into any sort of analysis about what this means within the bigger picture of American politics and society, we need a little background on the situation. The saga itself has been ongoing for two decades and the issue at hand is whether or not Mr. Bundy can graze his 900 head of cattle on a particular section of public lands in Clark County. Cliven Bundy has been ordered to stop on environmental grounds to protect the desert tortoise, but he has stood his ground time and time again. As a result, the feds have now entered the area and are impounding his cattle. According to CNN, Between Saturday and Wednesday, contracted wranglers impounded a total of 352 cattle. The Bundy family, as well as a variety of local residents have already had confrontations with the BLM agents. Tasers have been used and some minor injuries reported. Most significantly, militia members from across the country have already descended upon the area and it seems possible that hundreds may ultimately make it down there.

To me, the argument of who is right and who is wrong in this situation is the least interesting part of the story. I have noted time and time again that the feds are becoming increasingly out of control and belligerent to American citizens. We know the stories (think Aaron Swartz) and we know the overall trend. However, the reason the Bundy Ranch confrontation is so interesting, is that for whatever reason this particular incident seems to be striking a chord of dissent. It is often times the most random, unforeseen and innocuous things that spark social/political movements. This standoff has it all.

From CBS News:

LAS VEGAS (CBS Las Vegas/AP) — Militia groups are rallying behind a rancher whose cattle are being seized by the federal government.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that two militia members from Montana and one from Utah have arrived at Cliven Bundy’s ranch.

“We need to be the barrier between the oppressed and the tyrants,” Ryan Payne of the West Mountain Rangers told the Review-Journal. “Expect to see a band of soldiers.”

Payne said that militias from New Hampshire, Texas and Florida are likely to join and stand with Bundy and stay at his ranch.

“They all tell me they are in the process of mobilizing as we speak,” Payne told the Review-Journal, adding that hundreds of militia members are expected.

Lawmakers are adding their voices into the fray, criticizing the federal cattle roundup fought by Cliven Bundy who claims longstanding grazing rights on remote public rangeland about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he told new U.S. Bureau of Land Management chief Neil Kornze in Washington, D.C., that law-abiding Nevadans shouldn’t be penalized by an “overreaching” agency.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pointed earlier to what he called “an atmosphere of intimidation,” resulting from the roundup and said he believed constitutional rights were being trampled.

The fact that a U.S. Senator and the Governor are publicly coming out against the feds is in my opinion a very big deal and may signal the beginning of a true fracturing in the social fabric. Something that I have been expecting for many years.

Heller said he heard from local officials, residents and the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and remained “extremely concerned about the size of this closure and disruptions with access to roads, water and electrical infrastructure.”

The federal government has shut down a scenic but windswept area about half the size of the state of Delaware to round up about 900 cattle it says are trespassing.

Sandoval said he was most offended that armed federal officials have tried to corral people protesting the roundup into a fenced-in “First Amendment area” south of the resort city of Mesquite.

The site “tramples upon Nevadans’ fundamental rights under the U.S. Constitution” and should be dismantled, Sandoval said.

People being rounded up like cattle in these bullshit “First Amendment areas” is completely unacceptable.

BLM spokeswoman Kirsten Cannon and Park Service spokeswoman Christie Vanover have told reporters during daily conference calls that free-speech areas were established so agents could ensure the safety of contractors, protesters, the rancher and his supporters.

Meanwhile, federal officials say 277 cows have been collected. Cannon said state veterinarian and brand identification officials will determine what becomes of the impounded cattle.

The kindling for social upheaval has been growing in America for quite some time. Disrespectful and ignorant statements from billionaire oligarchs like Sam Zell only make it worse. The question in my mind has always been what will the catalyst be to spark the brushfire? Will it be the Bundy Ranch? We’ll have to wait and see.

Personally, I hope cooler heads prevail and there is no violence, because once you head down the road of violent confrontation between the people and the feds you are opening up a can of worms that will not easily be bottled up again. In such a situation, everybody loses. However, my long-term fear is that unless the government and its puppet masters on Wall Street and elsewhere in big business change course, social upheaval will prove inevitable, whether the Bundy Ranch sparks it, or some other incident down the road. These are troubled times and they are likely going to get worse before they get better.

This picture basically says it all:

Bundy ranch

Full article here.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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