As I've mentioned several times here, I have railed against the lack of counter media - including the so-called "liberal media" that the right wing loves to criticize - against the loopy mouthings and conspiracies of the right wing from the Trump championed "birther issue" to the anti-science surrounding the conservative take on Climate Change.  Just imagine what Trump, Cruz and Rubio would be saying if the group of armed militia patriots in Oregon had been an armed group of African Americans?  Or the Black Lives Matter folks.  Under these circumstances you would be hearing righteous outrage over this illegal occupation of a Federal Building and how dare these Black thugs act in such an illegal, immoral fashion contrary to every American value we hold dear.  But, as the headline that appeared on Page 6 of today's Washington Post above a continuation of the Post's front page story "Occupiers in Oregon Pledge Long Standoff," stated, the newspaper has bravely forged a new pathway of illumination of the total, absolute, abject SILENCE concerning the occupation of the
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge administration building by every single Republican Presidential candidate.

 Sure, it is a short article on Page 6 but this is better than the Post's and the media's usual silence when such events occur.  When they involve White people.  Even armed White people.

Having visited a couple dozen National Parks over the years, (our largest D.C. park, Rock Creek Park, about 3,000 acres, is a National Park).  I seem to recall that tossing an empty water bottle in the woods or plucking a wildflower are both actions that are illegal - felonies, actually since it is Federal property - and can subject you to arrest and prosecution.   But it would seem that under cover of the Sagebrush Rebellion most recently spearheaded by Cliven Bundy a year and a half ago in Nevada and now re-activated by his son, Ammon, in Oregon this is all very much a patriotic duty.   So pretty much the same dynamics are at work here:  some rancher receiving Federal largess for their business activities, (this is called "welfare" by conservatives when applied to the poor, the aged and the disabled) gets caught doing illegal things and, after years - in the case of Cliven Bundy, 20 years - of such illegal activity, the Bureau of Land Management finally gets pissed off enough to file a lawsuit. Now filing a lawsuit is pretty much your standard, acceptable, patriotic and legal means by which law breakers are adjudicated.

Let's take a look at what Dwight Hammond and his son, Steven, were convicted of.  The Hammonds claim that the fire they started in 2001 to control "invasive grasses" on their property inadvertently spread to the refuge land.  Of course, the Hammonds have a whole range longstanding complaints (like Bundy) against the Federal Government claiming that the Fed harassed them for years and years by trying to purchase their property several times and surrounding their property with more refuge land.  The two were convicted of the arsons three years ago and served time — Dwight three months and Steven a year. But a judge ruled their terms were too short under federal law and ordered them back to prison for about four years each.  The ruling was based on minimum sentencing criteria for the commission of a felony, much the same way that minimum sentences are imposed for the possession with intent to distribute pot.  

The Hammonds appealed their convictions in the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals as they had the perfect right to do.  

But here's what happened:

Dwight Lincoln Hammond, 73, and his son, Steven Dwight Hammond, 46, were sentenced on Oct. 7 to five years in prison for illegally setting fires on U.S. Bureau of Land Management property near Diamond, Ore.
The ranchers had already served shorter sentences because the federal judge originally overseeing their case said the five-year minimum requirement “would shock the conscience.”
The Hammonds were subject to re-sentencing because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out those original prison terms for igniting fires in 2001 and 2006 as too lenient.
Previously, U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan, who is now retired, found that a five-year term would violate the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because it’s “grossly disproportionate to the severity of the offenses here.”
Dwight Lincoln Hammond, who was only convicted of the 2001 fire, received three months in prison, while his son was sentenced to one year, followed by three years of supervised release for each man.
Federal prosecutors challenged those sentences, and the 9th Circuit agreed that judges don’t have the “discretion to disregard” such requirements.
So in essence and in fact, the Hammond's beef is not with the Bureau of Land Management but with the Federal Court System.  Now, I've been a fierce critic of the mandatory minimum sentencing "guidelines" since they were introduced back in the 1970's as a means of "fighting/getting tough on" crime.  Courts have consistently upheld minimum sentencing for over 3o years until just the past few months.  Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the Hammonds even if they got sort of a raw deal when the Appeals Court rejected the lesser prison terms that the original judge had imposed since the terms violated the mandatory minimum sentencing laws.  Why should ranchers in Oregon be treated any differently from pot users in New York or Florida?  After all, equal treatment under the law is a pretty fundamental tenet of American jurisprudence.
Hammond has said he and his son plan to report to prison Monday in San Pedro as ordered by a judge, but the court decision has generated controversy across the West.  
So "Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war," the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.  All right. No. We are not engaged in a war to test whether America can long endure as Abraham Lincoln intoned back in 1863 on a Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Civil War battlefield.    But this is precisely what the "protestors" who have illegally taken over a Federal building hope to achieve.  Here's what one of the organizers stated:

“We will not fire unless fired upon, but we will stand and defend the Constitution,” Jon Ritzheimer, who traveled from Phoenix, said in a video posted from the refuge on Facebook.

Ritzheimer warned law enforcement officials against creating “another Ruby Ridge,” a reference to a deadly 1992 siege in northern Idaho between the FBI and backwoods cabin dweller Randy Weaver.

“Yes, there are some people that are armed,” Ritzheimer said. “We need to defend our rights. That's what the 2nd Amendment is there for, people.”
What the protesters want is to provoke the Federal Government into a Ruby Ridge ( or Waco, Texas ( type massacre in order to spark some nationwide armed revolt against our Big Evil Federal Government right along the lines of our original Revolution of 1776 against the British.  Yeah.  Right.  Sorry but your foolish, irrational, and just plain dumb illegal actions don’t qualify as legitimate means to address your grievances.  That’s what our court system is for.  That’s how the Hammond’s wound up in the situation they have found themselves in.  They availed themselves of our system of justice.  And they lost. 
“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.”
Actually, the public is not saying this.  Sorry folks, but losing a court case is not cause for the New American Revolution.   


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