Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Last Call For The War Next Door

Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer went deep into the Three Percenter militia movement to talk to its leadership and interviewed militia co-founder Mike "Fifty Cal" Morris.  Mike's just your average, friendly neighborhood insurrectionist advocating the overthrow of the US government, you see.

In 2013, Mike Morris, a Marines veteran and IT manager from Colorado, cofounded a militia group called Three Percent United Patriots (3UP). This armed faction was an offshoot of the larger Three Percenter movement, which sprung up after the election of Barack Obama. The movement's members take their name from the belief that just three percent of American colonists were responsible for overthrowing the British in the Revolutionary War, and that it will take three percent of today's Americans to bring about the "restoration of the Founders' Republic." Today, 3UP is likely the largest militia in the country, with active branches in more than a dozen states. Morris says that membership "exploded" after the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. He boasts that the Colorado branch now has 3,400 members. 
After months of training undercover with militias in California, earlier this year I traveled to southern Arizona to join 3UP's Operation Spring Break. At least twice a year, militia members from around the country set up a heavily armed base in the Arizona desert and patrol the US-Mexico border for people entering the country illegally. Morris, also known as Fifty Cal, runs the operations, planning daytime and nighttime missions from his Kodiak trailer in the "forward operating base." When I first met Morris, he only knew me as a low-ranking militia member. I later caught up with him, told him I was a journalist, and asked for an interview.

And this guy is a real piece of work.

Shane Bauer: How did you get involved in the militia movement and patriot movement? 
Mike Morris: I got involved in the militia movement back in the late '90s. I was involved in state militias in Colorado and then got involved in a group called the Tyranny Response Team, which I was one of the original members of. 
SB: What attracted you to the militia movement? 
MM: I was always raised to be patriotic; to believe that protecting the nation is my duty. I went into the Marine Corps straight out of high school and when I got out of the Marines, joining a militia seemed like the way to continue serving my country. In 2013, Mitch Nerem and I formed the Three Percent United Patriots, which has become one of the largest national patriot organizations. We didn't plan for 3UP to be this big national organization. We really started by focusing on Colorado. Colorado is built up now to over 3,400 members. We have trainings every week. 
SB: What is the goal of 3UP? 
MM: The object for 3UP is to unite patriot groups across the United States and to build a patriot network of shared resources, education, and training. We set out to train people to be able to take care of themselves, protect their families. We are preparing for anything, from bad snowstorms to a blackout. I can tell you what we're not: We're not an organization trying to take over the government. That being said, we do have an interest in trying to preserve what we see as the founding principles of the nation as codified by the Bill of Rights. We're not out looking for some newfound revolution. But we are prepared, should the day come, to defend our nation, defend our neighbors, and defend our way of life. I don't think there's a lot of patriots out there that are looking to run from the fight, but it's not the patriots that are gonna bring the fight.

And this is what I don't get.  This is like pretending to be citizen police just in case police can't do the job.  It's a cop out, to expect tyranny and be "ready for it" but then saying you're not here to overthrow the government, and he gives away the game a bit further down.

SB: What do you think of the federal government? 
MM: The federal government is becoming tyrannical. I think that they have broadly overreached in many aspects. We see it in the Second Amendment, but we see it in the First Amendment too. There's talk about what you can say, when you can say it. Loretta Lynch came out herself and said people who make disparaging comments against Muslims should be charged with hate crimes. We see the federal government getting involved in everything from school lunches to firearms to how you can talk. Twenty years ago we didn't need all these laws and rules. Things seemed to work just fine

Make America Great Again.  And it always comes back to "We don't like the federal government doing things we don't agree with, so we're willing to resort to non-legal and armed methods in order to deal with that."

Just call it what it is, armed insurrection, and be honest about your beliefs.

The Green Hill To Die On

For a Morehouse man, Marc Lamont Hill disappoints me greatly as he says he's voting Green and that it's preferable to have Trump to Clinton.

Hill not only talked about his road to success—from dropping out of Morehouse to homelessness, from selling incense on the streets of Atlanta to receiving a Ph.D.—but also made it clear that when it comes to the 2016 presidential election, there is no “lesser of two evils” in our current political duopoly
W.E.B. Du Bois said in 1956, “I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no ‘two evils’ exist.” Hill takes that philosophy and makes it plain.

The DNC disappointed me because it looked like a Republican convention. … 
“[Democrats] tried to take the patriotism language that the Republicans usually use in their conferences and used it for their own. They talked about war. They talked about the economy in a way that sounded like Republicans from 20 years ago. Part of the reason it was so easy for Melania to jack Michelle Obama’s speech is because they’re all saying the same stuff. 
I’m not scared of Trump. I’m scared of us as a country moving in the wrong direction. … Republicans are always talking about terrorism, but Democrats are playing on a certain kind of terrorism, too. They’re essentially saying, ‘If you don’t vote for us, then you’re going to have Donald Trump and your life will be ruined.’ If you frame that as the choice, you never get to demand what you actually deserve and what you actually want. 

Except for the small problem that a two-party representative democracy doesn't work like that, and that the people do actually decide what they want.  If enough people voted for Jill Stein, she would be president. They're not, and that doesn't make the other 99% of America using fear tactics as terrorists or too stupid to be allowed to vote, it means, as our resident pain in the ass puts it, that Jill Stein has not made the case to the American people.
When D.J. Envy asked did Hill “like” Hillary Clinton, he responded unapologetically:

I wouldn’t vote for her. I’m voting for the Green Party. … They’re not going to win this election. But if the differences between the two candidates aren’t vast enough, then I would rather introduce a third candidate to build a movement. Because every four years we say, ‘The third party can’t win.’ So we never invest in the third party. We never grow the third party. If they get 5 percent of the vote, they can be in the debates. And if they’re in the debates, now we can change the conversation. 
After Envy said that Democrats voting third party would take votes away from Clinton, ultimately paving the way for a Donald Trump presidency, Hill laid the truth on the table: 
I would rather have Trump be president for four years and build a real left-wing movement that can get us what we deserve as a people, than to let Hillary be president and we stay locked in the same space where we don’t get what we want..

I am terribly tired of this argument, that somehow anyone pointing out the very real damage that Donald Trump would do to our country should be dismissed as promoting "fear-mongering".  It's not fear-mongering given his own statements and behavior.  Keeping him out of the White House should be a no-brainer and yet we have people who still haven't figured out that the country will be greatly diminished with Trump in the Oval Office.  Fire burns things, and people who point out that fire, if used incorrectly, can cause great damage aren't called "fear-mongers" by National Park Rangers

The cost to pay for a coalition based on stopping a Trump presidency in 2020 is too high to pay, particularly since we can easily stop it now before said presidency ever happens here in 2016, but I don't have a Ph.D. like Marc here.

Guess I'm just a fear-mongering fear-monger.

It's About (Voter) Suppression, Con't.

Trump's real legacy, that of destroying confidence in the American election system, is growing more pernicious by the day.  Greg Sargent notes that the party divide on which is a larger issue, voter suppression or voter fraud, isn't even close.

The Public Religion Research Institute released a remarkable new poll this morning that confirms the point. It finds that a huge majority of Republican respondents say voter fraud is a bigger problem than restricted access to voting is. And there is a striking racial divide on this question as well — more on that in a moment. 
The poll finds that among Americans overall, only 43 percent have a great deal of confidence that their votes will be counted accurately. That’s unfortunate, to be sure. Meanwhile, the partisan divide is notable: 55 percent of Democrats have a great deal of confidence in the vote counting, while 44 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Trump supporters feel the same way. 
Here’s where it gets worse. Only 37 percent of Americans believe that “people casting votes who are not eligible to vote” is a bigger problem than “eligible voters being denied the right to vote,” which is seen as a bigger problem by 41 percent. But a huge majority of Republicans sees the former as the bigger problem:

Roughly two-thirds (66%) of Republicans believe voter fraud is a bigger problem than voter disenfranchisement, compared to only 19% of Democrats. More than six in ten (62%) Democrats say eligible voters being denied access is the bigger problem facing the election system
The racial divide is also striking. According to numbers provided to me by PRRI, African Americans say that denial of access to eligible voting is the bigger problem by 66-21, while whites say that voter fraud is the bigger problem by 42-35. But as Ari Berman recently demonstrated, voter suppression is a far more extensive problem than is voter fraud, which is virtually nonexistent:

The real danger to American democracy stems from GOP efforts to make it harder to vote. New voting restrictions — like voter-ID laws, cuts to early voting and barriers to voter registration — that are in place in 14 states for the first time in 2016 will make it harder for millions of eligible voters to cast a ballot. And voters are lacking crucial protections because this is the first presidential election in 50 years without the full provisions of the Voting Rights Act…. It’s incredibly unlikely there will be widespread voter fraud on Election Day. But there will be eligible voters who show up to vote and are turned away from the polls. That’s the real threat to election integrity we should be focusing on. 
Yet the public is closely divided on this question, and Republican voters are overwhelmingly think voter fraud is the bigger problem.

Republicans will continue to blame "voter fraud" for every loss that they suffer from here on out, particularly "voter fraud" by black and Latino voters.  They will then continue to try as hard as possible to keep black and Latino voters from voting at all.

That's the real fight going forward.


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