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October 4, 2016

The Descent Into Quasi-Law


Library of Law & Liberty

“Our Constitution was written for a people seeking to live decent lives within their own, largely self-governing communities. It cannot function if the unwritten constitution, as we can call it, of institutions, beliefs, and practices no longer supports a limited central government of separated powers.”

“Stroke of a pen . . . law of the land. Kind of cool.” That insouciant comment, made by Paul Begala when he worked in the Clinton White House, raised controversy when Begala said it back in 1998, but it hardly would today.

After all, just in the past few weeks we have discovered that President Obama plans to sign, on his own authority, an international “climate change” treaty. He calls it an executive agreement and so claims he needs no congressional approval, even though his administrators will use the treaty to impose new policies and rules binding American individuals, governments, and businesses to change their behavior on pain of federal sanction.

We also have discovered that the Obama administration has been funneling money it wrangled from legal settlements with banks—intended to help those victimized in the last mortgage bubble—to partisan organizations supporting its own political agenda.

In addition, Obama has “proclaimed” the world’s largest ocean reserve off the coast of Hawaii and created a massive federal “monument” banning economic activity from a large swath of Maine. The mainstream press has lauded these last actions as pro-environment. But loggers, fishermen, and consumers will pay the price for policies implemented without the constitutionally required debate in Congress regarding their costs and benefits.

What all these actions have in common is their contempt for constitutional forms and procedures. I use the term “contempt” to indicate, not open hostility, but rather an utter lack of concern. And this lack of concern increasingly crosses institutional and partisan lines.

Some of the President’s recent actions might be dismissed as mere “perks of the office.” Creating monuments, changing the names of mountain peaks (Mount McKinley is now Mount Denali) and such have become pseudo-prerogative actions in the United States; few among our elites care to question them. But, as with all prerogatives, those who hold these powers will seek to expand them. Under Obama the “flexibility” of the President has come to swallow up the rule of law.

Image result for constitution on fire

Take, for example, this President’s attempts to contravene established law so as to prevent deportation of persons in this country illegally. In a series of 12 executive orders he did precisely this, exempting from deportation anyone who met a set of criteria specifically rejected by Congress. The orders eventually were stuck down by a federal appeals court—a decision upheld on account of a tie at the U.S. Supreme Court. What was truly astonishing about this naked power grab, intended to allow up to five million people in this country illegally to stay here in defiance of the clear language of properly promulgated law, was that it almost succeeded.

Even more than through direct decree, Obama has seized massive power for himself through cynical misuse of his executive, administrative power. He has directed his administrators to issue orders and regulations contradicting and/or going well beyond the intention of the laws they are sworn to uphold. Judges help as well. Chief Justice John Roberts saved Obamacare by pretending that its provision imposing a penalty on anyone daring to not purchase the dictated health insurance was merely a “tax.”

Other instances of overreach abound and multiply. Sometimes Obama loses, as with his attempt to force the Little Sisters of the Poor—an order of Catholic nuns caring for the elderly and dying—to cooperate in the provision of contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs through their health insurer. More often he seems to be winning, as with his Education Department’s intentional misreading of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

The Department has taken it upon itself to vastly widen the definition of “sexual harassment” and to alter the plain meaning of Title IX’s ban on discrimination on the basis of sex to demand students’ access to bathrooms belonging to the opposite sex. Across the nation universities in particular are reversing traditional burdens of proof and truncating due process rights for those accused of sexual misconduct out of fear of Education Department investigations and reprisals. All this in response to bald claims of power without any reasonable basis in the legislation under which the Department is claiming the authority to regulate.[1]

Much of the Education Department’s power in this area does not stem from the law, or even its own regulations. Most of the changes in educational policy—and the rights of the accused on college campuses—result from directions embedded only in “Dear Colleague” letters sent by mid-level bureaucrats to universities. Even more changes owe their existence to consent decrees entered into by universities with the Department out of fear of the cost and bad publicity of a federal investigation.[2]

None of this is to say that the Obama administration is the first to stretch the powers of the presidency beyond constitutional bounds. All of his abuses have precedents in previous administrations. Moreover, the movement toward presidential power has been aided and abetted by a Congress intent on passing broad legislation “solving” problems like workplace safety through massive delegations of power, then accepting a distinctly secondary role as ombudsmen and overseers of administrative quality-control. Courts, too, have expanded executive power through their own quasi-legislative actions, demanding that new and expanded rights be made real through discretionary actions by administrative agencies.

We have seen in recent years the solidification of a regime different in character from that embodied in the language of the Constitution. Partly on account of a determination to pursue a radical agenda and partly on account of the breakdown of opposition from other branches of government and the people, we have seen a fateful shift in the operating rules of our political order. These actions, and cavalier responses to them, evince a lack of respect for constitutional forms and procedures that has become so pervasive as to undermine the rule of law. Indeed, it is not too much to say that the United States no longer is a regime of law, but one of mere quasi-law.

By quasi-law I mean directives with the force of law that lack crucial characteristics of genuine law. Emanating from all three branches of government, quasi-laws create rights and duties like laws but lack essential legal attributes such as promulgation through prescribed means and provision of predictable rules rather than mere delegation of discretionary power. Citizens today may find themselves charged with violating “rules” emanating from any branch of government (including, of course the fourth, administrative branch) without understanding their content or origins, even as rulers find it increasingly difficult to enforce effective policies in the face of unpredictable conflicts with members of other branches.

Thus, the persistent breaking of constitutional rules has produced confusion, tension, and animosity among those making and following law. It also increasingly denies the people that most basic of goods provided by legitimate governments: predictable rules allowing them to go about their lives without fear of arbitrary, surprising punishment for their actions.

The roots of our descent into the rule of quasi-law are relatively deep. From Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, powerful political actors have attacked the “deadlock of democracy,” painting the Constitution as an impediment to expression of the people’s will. This determination to turn our Constitution into a tool of transformation, rather than a charter of limited government, crucially undermined the rule of law. The ideological choice of results over process and form that literally transformed our constitutional culture from one devoted to maintenance of a free people governing itself in its various local associations into a conflicted set of interested parties and ideological factions fighting to control the levers of federal power for their own ends.

The crucial change that has taken place has been the atrophy of Americans’ constitutional morality. This term, most fully developed by the late George Carey, refers to the felt duty of the people, and especially those in positions of political authority, to respect constraints on their power included in the written and unwritten constitutions. Having delegitimized the written Constitution’s emphasis on limited, checked, and balanced powers, and having sold the people on a conception of the national government as one properly responsible for the well-being of every individual in the nation, Progressives of various sorts have destroyed America’s traditional constitutional morality. In its place we now have a confused set of motivations and convictions in important ways opposed to the written Constitution.

Our Constitution was written for a people seeking to live decent lives within their own, largely self-governing communities. It cannot function if the unwritten constitution, as we can call it, of institutions, beliefs, and practices no longer supports a limited central government of separated powers. It would be easy to simply despair of our constitutional order and recommend a new one, seeking to cabin power through extensive, detailed statutes or administrative procedures. This has been the direction of reform for some decades. It has not born fruit for the simple reason that contempt for constitutional formalities necessarily involves contempt for legal formalities.

Only the hard work of restoring our unwritten constitution will make it possible to enforce and rebuild our constitutional order. This is not the work of a few detailed reforms, but of a decades-long struggle to reinvigorate the determination to use already existing constitutional procedures to limit power. The power of impeachment and removal, the power of the veto, and, above all, the determination to cease supporting actions, by whatever branch of government, that fail to abide by the requirements of constitutional and legal form; all these must be grasped again by citizens and public figures determined to restore the rule of law and our constitutional order.

[1] The new regulations have suffered only limited judicial setbacks along the way. For a detailed critique, see “Law Professors’ Open Letter Regarding Campus Free Speech and Sexual Assault.” Available at:

[2] Of course, the Department is aided by campus administrators only too happy to comply with any directive increasing their own power and supporting their own ideological programs. A useful summary of these actions is provided in the document from Senator Lankford’s office, cited in previous note.

Bruce P. Frohnen

Reposted by  10/4/16


October 2, 2016

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Lawyer says FBI agents posed as film crew in Bunkerville standoff investigation


Rancher Cliven Bundy displays a bouquet of desert foliage that his cattle grazes on during a news conference at an event near his ranch in Bunkerville on Saturday, April 11, 2015. (David Becker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

FBI agents posed as a documentary film crew to gather evidence during their investigation into the April 2014 standoff near the Bundy family ranch in Bunkerville, a defense lawyer disclosed in court papers Friday.

Attorney Chris Rasmussen said undercover agents conducted video interviews of several defendants to “extract admissions” from them before they were charged.

He identified the company as Longbow Productions, which does not appear in online Nevada licensing records.

Attorney Dan Hill, who is defending Ammon Bundy, said his client was interviewed for several hours in Phoenix by Longbow Productions months before he was charged in the Bunkerville standoff with his father, Cliven Bundy, and other defendants.

 “I believe that the FBI was pretending to be members of the news media in order to have lengthy conversations with Ammon and others,” Hill said. “Ammon has nothing to hide, but I still find it troublesome that the FBI would sink to that tactic.”

Another defense lawyer, Jess Marchese, said his client Eric Parker gave the company a 90-minute interview in Idaho, where he lives.

“From everything that I’ve seen, it’s my belief that Longbow Productions was the FBI,” Marchese said. “I know that there were interviews with some of the other defendants. It was definitely unique, but I don’t think it’s overly harmful to my client because his recitation of the facts has always been the same.”

Parker posted on Facebook in August 2014 that a member of Longbow Productions told him the company was making a documentary about the standoff and wanted his opinion about it.

“I was told that the Bundys were working with them and have given interviews for it,” Parker said in the post. “If I could have that confirmed, I would feel better about talking to them.”

Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the Nevada U.S. attorney’s office, would not comment Friday on Longbow Productions.

“We cannot comment on pending litigation,” she said.

FBI spokesman Huston Pullen also declined to comment.

The revelation came in court papers Rasmussen filed seeking to narrow a protective order that vastly restricts public disclosure of evidence in the high-profile case.

Rasmussen, who represents radio talk show host Peter Santilli, said he and other defense lawyers want to cite government evidence about Longbow Productions and other activity by federal agents during the standoff investigation in public motions challenging the government’s case.

Other government evidence expected to be the subject of defense motions includes Nevada Highway Patrol dashcam videos showing the standoff scene, bodycam videos from Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents capturing the events leading up to the protests, and aerial surveillance of the Bunkerville area conducted by federal agents, according to Rasmussen’s court papers.

A total of 19 defendants were charged in March with conspiring to assault BLM agents on April 12, 2014, and take back the impounded Bundy cattle that had been grazing on federal land. Two later pleaded guilty, and the rest are to stand trial Feb. 6 before Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro.

In his court papers, Rasmussen said defense lawyers should be able to remove personal identifiers from government documents and then file them publicly with their upcoming motions.

“Counsel should be allowed to make professional judgments and redact the personal information of any person outlined in police or FBI reports like counsel in this district has done in every case prior to this one,” he said.

Attorney Maggie McLetchie — who represents the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Battle Born Media and The Associated Press — has lodged objections in court papers to the protective order, calling it too broad and a blow to transparency.

Because of concerns about threats to witnesses and law enforcement officers, the order prohibits defense teams for all 17 defendants from publicly disclosing grand jury transcripts, FBI and police reports, witness statements and other documents the government collected during its two-year investigation.

McLetchie on Friday hailed Rasmussen’s bid to narrow the scope of the order, which was signed earlier this year by U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen.

“In short, the protective order in place is excessively broad,” she said. “It cloaks information that the public has a right to know about in total secrecy.”

McLetchie said there are First Amendment concerns and questions about the actions of law enforcement in the case.

“The public has a right to assess for itself whether the government engaged in problematic law enforcement practices and whether this prosecution is retaliation for criticizing the government,” she said. “The courts belong to the people, and law enforcement works for the people, too.”

Reposted by  10/2/16

September 14, 2016

Meet Native Americans Fighting Obama’s Push to Conserve Public Land

 Josh Siegel

as published by Daily Signal

“I hope our people can still enjoy Bears Ears,” Holliday said. “But I fear with a monument, there will be more restrictions, and we won’t have that opportunity, especially our Indian people, our Navajo people. We are always being cut off somewhere, and we don’t really trust the federal government. That’s the way we are. We want to continue to use it like the way it is.”

The latest front in a debate over the reach of U.S. control of federal land is a 1.9 million-acre retreat of mesas and canyons located in Utah’s poorest county.

The stakes are large for this remote land, which President Barack Obama is considering designating as a national monument, in his continued pursuit of being the most prolific conservationist to ever occupy the White House.

But for the local Native Americans who live near the land—known to them as Bears Ears—and depend on it for sustenance and cultural tradition, the debate over how to best preserve it feels smaller, but no less important.

“Bears Ears has a lot of meaning to me,” said Marie Holliday, a 72-year-old resident of Monument Valley in Utah’s San Juan County who belongs to the Navajo tribe.

Added Holliday, in an interview with The Daily Signal:

    Our people have used the land for generations. With my grandmother before she died, we would go across the San Juan River to graze [livestock]. In the fall, people start to go out there to get firewood to heat their homes for winter. We use the herbal plants that grow there to heal sickness. A lot of our ancestral ruins are buried there. It really is a beautiful place.

Obama’s Conservation Drive

Holliday does not support the work of a coalition of tribes—including the national body of her own, Navajo Nation—that is advocating for Obama to use his executive power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to make Bears Ears a national monument.

Whereas supporters of a monument see it as a way to best protect Bears Ears from looting, mining, and drilling—and a tourist boon for the area’s struggling economy—local Native Americans who oppose it don’t trust the federal government to look out for their interests.

The 1.9 million acres in southeastern Utah defined in the proposal by the coalition of tribes are public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service.

“I hope our people can still enjoy Bears Ears,” Holliday said. “But I fear with a monument, there will be more restrictions, and we won’t have that opportunity, especially our Indian people, our Navajo people. We are always being cut off somewhere, and we don’t really trust the federal government. That’s the way we are. We want to continue to use it like the way it is.”

The Obama administration’s consideration of Bears Ears as a national monument shares characteristics with the president’s recent use of the Antiquities Act.

On Aug. 24, siding with conservationists over the opposition of some residents and local officials, Obama designated more than 87,500 acres in Maine as a national monument.

Obama has created 23 national monuments, in addition to expanding an already existing one, more than any previous president.

In Utah, the Bears Ears monument proposal also lacks local backing.

Among opponents are the San Juan County Commission; Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican; the GOP-controlled state legislature; and the state’s congressional representatives.

But the tribal coalition of Navajos, Zunis, Hopis, Utes, and Ute Mountain Utes that is pushing for the monument views itself as representative of local interests. As part of its proposal, the coalition asks to jointly manage the land with the government.

Who’s Protecting the Land

“To put it plainly and bluntly, the people elect us to sit in these positions, and there is no way an elected leader would ever advocate for lack of access for its own people,” said Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk, councilwoman for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and co-chairwoman of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition.

Lopez-Whiteskunk, in an interview with The Daily Signal, added:

We believe we need to protect that access to the land, but do it in a respectable and responsible manner. We understand what it’s like to live out there. We’ve survived it. To think any tribal leader would cut off the supply to herbs, and firewood, and the capacity to say their prayers, is simply absurd.

In addition to the coalition’s tribal representation, it also gets support from major conservation groups and nature advocates.

According to a report in a local newspaper, Deseret News Utah, the campaign for the monument has been granted $20 million in donations from two philanthropic groups — the Hewlett and Packard foundations — that cite environmental protections as a focus for the grants they award.

The Conservation Lands Foundation also supports the coalition’s proposal, the newspaper said.

Lopez-Whiteskunk, 47, is a college-educated resident of Towaoc, Colorado, the headquarters of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to which she belongs, located about an hour-and-a-half drive from Bears Ears.

Using her platform “as someone lucky enough to speak for my people,” Lopez-Whiteskunk said it’s appropriate to collaborate with outside groups if it helps accomplish the coalition’s goal of making Bears Ears a national monument.

“When people say outsiders are coming in and we are backed by environmentalists, I say, ‘Heck, yeah, we are,’” Lopez-Whiteskunk told The Daily Signal, adding:

   There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just some people think Native Americans are not intelligent enough to seek resources, and seek out organizations and experts. We can and we do. I am a Native American who’s educated and I have the ability to research and utilize tools in a manner any movement would utilize. So I feel strongly that this initiative has the correct spirit and the right intent.

‘Trying to Work Together’

As the Obama administration considers the tribal coalition’s request, Utah’s representatives in Congress are planning their own method to preserve Bears Ears.

In July, Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, both Republicans, introduced the Utah Public Lands Initiative.

The massive public lands bill includes a provision that would conserve less of Bears Ears—1.4 million acres instead of 1.9 million acres—and also would allow energy development in certain areas.

Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, told The Daily Signal in an interview that his panel will mark up the legislation at the end of the month.

The committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on it Wednesday morning. A floor vote wouldn’t come until after the presidential election, Bishop said.

His measure is opposed by environmental groups and the tribal coalition, who say it does not significantly protect natural resources.

Bishop has made a congressional career fighting for local land rights. About 65 percent of Utah’s land is controlled by the federal government. The federal government owns 28 percent of all U.S. land, according to the Interior Department.

Bishop argues that executive action by the president would create ill will among locals who are split about what to do.

“If the president acts, he messes up what has been three years of trying to work together,” Bishop said, adding:

   “He can’t claim to have the local support to do it. Our plan is good and theirs sucks. Intellectually, creating a monument is a legislative function and should never have been an executive function. It has also become at least curious, if not downright hypocritical, why the president is considering doing this now as he is leaving office and is no longer accountable to explain why he did things.”

‘Won’t Have a Home No More’

No matter the path to protect Bears Ears, uniting the tribes is a challenge.

Jovanii Nez belongs to Descendants of K’aayelii, a group that considers itself the original inhabitants of the area in and around Bears Ears, and heirs to the land.

Nez, 43, says the group’s members are relatives of Hastii K’aayelii, a Navajo leader whose followers never surrendered to the federal government during the American-Indian Wars.

In 1933, the group says, the government relocated its members against their will from Bears Ears to an area of the Navajo reservation known as the Aneth Extension.

Descendants of K’aayelii opposes both the monument and the congressional approach, Nez told The Daily Signal in an interview.

“This discussion over the monument, and what to do about Bears Ears, has elevated our story but no one wants to hear it,” Nez said. “All that is keeping us alive is our passion for our homeland. We want a place where we know who we are. With a monument, we won’t have a home no more.”


Graphic courtesy of Daily Signal

Josh Siegel is the news editor for The Daily Signal. This article was originally posted at

Reposted by  9/14/16

September 30, 2016

Wind Power Made The Lights Go Out Across An ENTIRE STATE

The lights went out across an entire Australian state due to wind and solar power, and experts say the worst green energy blackouts are on their way.

South Australia suffered a complete power blackout Wednesday largely due to green energy. It plunged 1.7 million residents into darkness. The blackout was caused by problems with transmission lines feeding the region from other states and a green energy policy which caused the area to shut down operating coal plants to promote heavy use of wind and solar power.

Experts believe that the ability of an electrical grid to absorb unreliable green energybecomes increasingly more difficult at scale. Australia’s reliance on wind power makes blackouts more likely because the amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids more fragile.

Australian Liberal Party Sen. Chris Back blamed excessive reliance on wind turbines for the blackout and incredibly high electricity prices in South Australia. South Australia has been experiencing a power crisis since July when the state’s last reliable coal power plants were shuttered in favor of wind. Back has formally called for a moratorium on new turbines pending a cost-­benefit analysis of the effect of the wind industry on the country.

“There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure. There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Back told The Australian.

The power crisis in South Australia has caused the price of electricity to spike to 200 cents per kilowatt-hour of power. The average Australian currently pays about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to research by the country’s parliament. To put that in some perspective, the average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of power, roughly half the cost. Major businesses in South Australia have already threatened to suspend operations entirely until the price of power comes down.

Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, the same period when the government offered lucrative wind subsidies. Power prices in Australian states with a lot of wind power are almost double the rates in other states.

Other Pacific nations are cutting back and outright banning wind power due to the risk of blackouts. China has ordered wind operators to stop expanding four times in the last five years, because unreliable wind power was damaging the country’s power grid and costing the government enormous amounts of money. The Chinese government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration. China was wasting enough wind energy to power Great Britain, according to an article published earlier this month by a green think tank.

September 29, 2016

Senate Dem Report Attacking EPA Critics Traced to Green Pressure Group

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Document scrubbed of traces to environmentalist group after Free Beacon inquiries

A Democratic senator moved to conceal his apparent behind-the-scenes collaboration with an environmentalist pressure group on Wednesday after inquiries into the group’s role in crafting a report accusing political opponents of doing the bidding of special interests.A report posted on Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D., R.I.) website on Monday accused Environmental Protection Agency critics of being in the thrall of the fossil fuel industry. According to metadata in the report, the document was created by an attorney with a green group currently defending EPA policies in federal court.

After the Washington Free Beacon sought comment from Whitehouse and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), one of the report’s co-authors, a new version of the document appeared online without digital fingerprints identifying the environmentalist attorney as its author.

The report, released on Monday by Democratic Sens. Whitehouse, Reid, Barbara Boxer (Calif.), and Ed Markey (Mass.), is written to resemble an amicus brief in ongoing litigation challenging Environmental Protection Agency regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. A federal court heard oral arguments in that case on Tuesday.

One of the parties in that litigation is the Sierra Club, a leading environmentalist group that enlisted the services of attorneys with the group EarthJustice to defend the EPA regulations in court.

David Baron, one of the EarthJustice attorneys working on behalf of the Sierra Club, appears to have assisted the Democratic senators in putting together their report on the regulations’ legal challengers. Metadata in the since-deleted version of the Senate Democrats’ report listed him as the document’s “author.”

The new version of the report was created at 9:42 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to the document’s metadata, and lists Whitehouse staffer Gifford Wong as its author.

Whitehouse, Reid, Boxer, and Markey did not respond to questions about EarthJustice’s role in creating the report. EarthJustice and the Sierra Club did not return requests for comment.

Though the initial document’s metadata indicated the file was created by Baron, it is not clear what role he and EarthJustice played in crafting the report’s contents or the extent to which the group’s input made it into the final product.

It was also not immediately clear whether EarthJustice was compensated in any way for its work on the report.

Senate ethics rules generally classify pro-bono legal assistance as a “gift” subject to a $50 limit. Boxer, one of the report’s ostensible authors, is a vice chair of the Senate Ethics Committee.

Ethics rules make exceptions to the gift rule for pro-bono legal services provided to senators filing legal briefs in their official capacity. The four senators who released this week’s report also signed on to an amicus brief supporting the disputed EPA regulations, but their report was not an official legal document.

The report “demonstrates that the state officials, trade associations, front groups, and industry-funded scientists participating in the [EPA regulation legal] challenge actually represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry,” according to a news release on Whitehouse’s website.

EarthJustice has previously collaborated behind the scenes with leading environmental policymakers, according to internal communications released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, which opposes recent EPA regulations.

A 2014 E&E report identified EarthJustice as one of a number of organizations involved in “informal advisory teams of senior green-group representatives” that shaped major EPA regulations in internal discussions prior to their public release.

Chris Horner, an E&E attorney whom Whitehouse called out by name on the Senate floor on Tuesday, sees similar collusion at play in Senate Democrats’ report this week.

“Now we have documentary proof that its members have outsourced their policy-making and speech-writing to the green activists, signing their name to whatever is put in front of them, and using their office however these groups ask,” Horner said in an email.

Reposted by  9/29/16

September 29, 2016

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Amendment 71 gives all Coloradans a voice

Amending the Colorado Constitution is too easy. In fact, it’s been amended more than 150 times in 140 years. Compare that to 27 amendments for the U.S. Constitution since 1789.

The bar is this low: Proponents of an amendment must collect signatures from registered voters equaling 5 percent of those who participated in the previous secretary of state vote ­— or about 98,000 signatures — from folks from anywhere in the state.

But here is the dirty secret if you have some money and want to amend the Colorado Constitution today:

(1) Round up 200 signature collectors.

(2) Deploy them to downtown Denver and Boulder.

(3) Pay them $2 for each valid Colorado voter signature.

Once each of your signature-gathering contractors has obtained 500 signatures, you have just cleared the bar to get whatever hare-brained change to the state Constitution you want on the ballot. And it cost you $200,000. Most importantly, you didn’t hear from anyone outside of the Denver-Boulder area.

This may look like a gross oversimplification, but it’s not. Maybe in hot election years, the cost is more like $500,000, but that number is budget dust for some special interest supporters.

This is why we were appalled at The Denver Post’s editorial opposing Amendment 71, which would raise the requirements for getting proposed amendments on the ballot. We are not in the business of criticizing other newspapers and fully understand an honest disagreement on an issue like this, but the basis for the Post’s position is just offensive. More on that below.

Amendment 71 would involve the entire state in the amendment process. To get on the ballot, a proposed amendment would require signatures from 2 percent of registered voters from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts.

As a practical matter, only measures with genuine grassroots support will have a chance to get on the ballot if Amendment 71 passes. Proponents of a measure will have to come to Mesa County, hold town hall meetings and make a convincing case for the change, and then do the same across the state.

Proposed changes to the Constitution would require buy-in, not just from one demographic, but from the entire state. Significantly, the process to change a statute remains unchanged by Amendment 71. Interest groups can go to the ballot and change statutes under the same rules as today.

But Amendment 71’s requirements for amending the Constitution will be too expensive, says the Post editorial board. Requiring signatures from all 35 Senate districts sets the bar too high. The effect of the Post’s position is that rural opinions don’t matter. The Post agrees amending the Constitution should be harder, but doesn’t think all areas of Colorado should help determine a proposed amendment’s ballot-worthiness.

The prosperity gap between urban and rural Colorado has perhaps never been wider. The Post’s cynical position opposing Amendment 71 underscores one of the reasons for that chasm.

Reposted by  9/29/16

Southern Poverty Law Center: Wellspring of Manufactured Hate

 James Simpson

Capital Research 

Summary: The Southern Poverty Law Center began with an admirable purpose but long ago transformed into a machine for raising money and launching left-wing political attacks. Lately it’s become more of a threat to free speech and civil debate than a defender of the weak or a foe of violent extremism. It has also taken in millions from the Picower Foundation, whose own funds came largely from founder Jeffry Picower’s “investing” in his old friend Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

On August 15, 2012, an angry gay rights activist named Floyd Corkins stormed the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and began shooting. Corkins shot a brave security guard in the arm, but the guard still managed to wrestle him to the ground before he could kill or injure others.

Corkins was carrying 50 bullets and two loaded magazines for his 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol; 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches; and the address of another potential target, the Traditional Values Coalition. Before initiating his shooting spree, Corkins reportedly said, “I don’t like your politics.”

Reacting to the shooting, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins stated: “Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

Attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph Levin Jr. founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 1971. It bills itself as “a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.” People familiar with the SPLC may describe it differently. (For a previous CRC profile of the Center, see “The Southern Poverty Law Center: A Twisted Definition of ‘Hate,’” Organization Trends, November 2006.)

Early on it made a name for itself fighting genuinely extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and breaking down barriers of discrimination in the South. But today it is primarily a leftist attack machine. It devotes most of its sizeable resources to a systematic smear campaign against respected organizations and opinion leaders whose legitimate policy differences put them to the right of the SPLC.

For example, prior to the shooting, the SPLC identified the Family Research Council as an “anti-gay” extremist group, lumped together with groups like the KKK, neo-Nazis, the Nation of Islam, and the New Black Panther Party.

Even liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who describes the Family Research Council as “a mainstream conservative think tank,” thought the SPLC went too far:

I disagree with the Family Research Council’s views on gays and lesbians. But it’s absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.

Following a speech at a New York college in 2009, a student asked former Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) about a quotation attributed to him in a textbook. It said, “illegal immigrants were ‘coming to kill you and kill me and our families.’” Taken aback, Tancredo subsequently called the publisher to learn where the fake quotation had come from. “The Southern Poverty Law Center,” was the reply.

This is a familiar pattern. In 2007, SPLC labeled the Federation for American Immigration Reform a “Hate Group” as part of an effort to smear opponents of open borders and illegal immigration. In this effort, SPLC had no qualms associating itself with the National Council of La Raza (in Spanish, “the Race”), one of whose subordinate groups, the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan, is notorious for the motto, For La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada (“For The Race everything. Outside The Race, nothing”).

In a 2010 report detailing SPLC’s efforts, Jerry Kammer of the Center for Immigration Studies wrote:

Rather than engage in a debate, La Raza and its allies have waged a campaign to have the other side shunned by the press, civil society, and elected officials. It is an effort to destroy the reputations of its targets. It also seeks to intimidate and coerce others into silence. It undermines basic principles of civil society and democratic discussion.

SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok doesn’t mince words about illegal-immigration opponents: “Sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate crimes and so on … I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.…” (See

The SPLC has an improbably named program titled “Teaching Tolerance.” Perhaps Mr. Potok should take the course.

In the “Hate and Extremism” section of the SPLC website, the group lists 1,274 “Patriot Groups.” This category includes nonviolent conservative organizations like the Oath Keepers, the Constitution Party, Tea Party Patriots, the Tenth Amendment Center, and Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily.

In addition to fomenting hatred for groups with which it disagrees, the SPLC is the author of dangerous provocations. For example, in 1996 SPLC hyped a story that black churches were being torched at alarming rates in the South by white racists. As Michael Fumento wrote in the American Spectator at the time, this was soon proven to be false.

SPLC wildly exaggerates the number of groups genuinely associated with hate and violence as well. Laird Wilcox, an independent, non-conservative researcher found that of 800-plus “hate groups” over half them were either non-existent, existed in name only, or were inactive. (See

Wilcox has his own “extremist” lists. One is called “The Watchdogs … organizations who ‘monitor’ and combat the activities of their ideological opponents,” including many “organizations and individuals who have nothing to do with racism.” SPLC tops the list. (See

A Morally Bankrupt Organization Founded by a Morally Bankrupt Man
SPLC’s co-founder, Morris Dees, has been harshly criticized by former SPLC employees, a former business partner, and many liberal critics. They see him as little more than a rank opportunist and the SPLC’s chief purpose as raising money for SPLC coffers.

Though trained as a lawyer, Dees is best known for his fundraising ability. Raising $25 million for the George McGovern presidential campaign in 1972, his payment was the donor list, the gold mine that boosted SPLC’s funding. A position with Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign in 1976 added another sterling list. It paid off.

With over $238 million in net assets, the SPLC is one of the wealthiest nonprofit organizations in the United States. Despite this massive endowment, the Center devotes almost 20 percent of its $34.5 million operating expenses – $6.5 million in 2011 – to fundraising. This includes $1 million for fundraising services and $5.5 million in fundraising staff salaries and administrative expenses.

Meanwhile, the group spent only $11 million on its supposed primary mission: “providing legal services to victims of civil rights injustices and hate crimes.” The Center spent an astounding $12.5 million maintaining, publishing, and promoting its “hate” list propaganda, including a program to “educate” children, according to its 2010 tax return.

SPLC received $36 million in contributions in 2011. Excess contributions and investment income allowed the Center to boost assets by $9.4 million. Its 2010 tax return shows the SPLC realized a net gain of $28.8 million, following a similar net gain in 2009 of almost $30 million—roughly equivalent to its entire operating budget! Why fundraise at all?

Each year the SPLC is able to add tens of millions of dollars to its endowment. Despite being a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, supposedly with nothing to hide, some of SPLC’s assets are squirreled away in untraceable Bermuda and Cayman Island accounts. Why?

SPLC’s leaders are among the highest paid in the nonprofit field. As Chief Trial Counsel, Morris Dees receives $343,676. Richard Cohen, the Center’s president, is paid $339,764.

SPLC boasts many high-dollar donors. The top 10 for recent years are: Picower Foundation ($3,813,112, 1999 – 2008); Cisco Systems Foundation ($1,620,000, 2001 – 2004); Grousbeck Family Foundation ($1,600,000, 2007 – 2011); Grove Foundation ( $875,000, 2001 – 2011); Rice Family Foundation ($535,000 , 1999 – 2010); Rockefeller Philanthropy ($510,000, 2008 – 2010); Unbound Philanthropy ($500,000, 2006 – 2010); Public Welfare Foundation ($500,000, 2008 – 2010); Vanguard Charitable Endowment ($469,120, 2006 – 2011); Rocking Moon Foundation ($350,000, 2006 – 2010); and the Jewish Community Fund ($347,274, 1999 – 2010).

Space constraints prevent inclusion of the many more foundations and small family funds that regularly contribute $10,000 to $25,000 per year. Do these donors realize they are merely contributing to a quarter-billion-dollar investment fund?

SPLC’s biggest benefactor, the Picower Foundation, made the most of its money from the Bernie Madoff scam. Founder Jeffry Picower, who was friends with Madoff for 30 years, profited by $5 billion from his “investments” with his friend, an amount larger than Madoff personally “earned.” Picower died in 2009, but as reported December 27, 2010, federal prosecutors and the trustee charged with recovering money for Madoff’s victims took Picower’s estate to court. The estate agreed to a settlement of $7.2 billion to compensate victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Federal prosecutors apparently thought Picower, an accountant, should have questioned returns on investment that ranged up to 950 percent. The Picower Foundation has closed its doors, but will the SPLC refund any of its ill-gotten gains?

Dees’ first business partner was Millard Fuller, who later went on to found Habitat for Humanity. In an article in The Progressive, he described their relationship:

Morris and I, from the first day of our partnership, shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money. We were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich. During the eight years we worked together, we never wavered in that resolve. (See

Many of Dees’s most virulent critics are on the Left. Nation magazine’s Alexander Cockburn wrote a scathing article in 2009, “King of the Hate Business.” Recent Republican electoral losses, Cockburn wrote, were

horrible news for people who raise money and make money selling the notion there’s a right resurgence out there in the hinterland with massed legions of haters, ready to march down Main Street draped in Klan robes, a copy of “Mein Kampf” tucked under one arm and a Bible under the other. What is the arch-salesman of hate mongering, Mr. Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center, going to do now? Ever since 1971, U.S. Postal Service mailbags have bulged with his fundraising letters, scaring dollars out of the pockets of trembling liberals aghast at his lurid depictions of hate-sodden America, in dire need of legal confrontation by the SPLC. (See

Harper’s published a similarly critical analysis of the SPLC titled, “The Church of Morris Dees”:

Today, the SPLC spends most of its time—and money—on a relentless fund-raising campaign, peddling memberships in the church of tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit rider passing the collection plate. “He’s the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement,” renowned anti-death-penalty lawyer Millard Farmer (not Dees’s business partner, ed.) says of Dees, his former associate, “though I don’t mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.”

Harper’s also published a letter from Stephen Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, to the University of Alabama, declining an invitation to a “Morris Dees Justice Award” presentation. Bright called Dees “a con man and fraud,” and added:

The positive contributions Dees has made to justice—most undertaken based upon calculations as to their publicity and fundraising potential—are far overshadowed by what Harper’s described as his “flagrantly misleading” solicitations for money. He has raised millions upon millions of dollars with various schemes, never mentioning that he does not need the money because he has $175 million and two “poverty palace” buildings in Montgomery. He has taken advantage of naive, well-meaning people—some of moderate or low incomes—who believe his pitches and give to his $175-million operation. He has spent most of what they have sent him to raise still more millions, pay high salaries, and promote himself. (See

The Fairfax (Virginia) Journal counseled federal employees to forego contributions to the SPLC in the Combined Federal Campaign:

… give your hard-earned dollars to a real charity, not a bunch of slick, parasitic hucksters who live high on the hog by raising money on behalf of needy people who never see a dime of it. (, Sept. 30, 2011.)

SPLC’s first president was Julian Bond, a socialist who has supported and participated in socialist, communist, and other radical leftist organizations and activities his entire life. As a rising star in the Left he received the early endorsement and support of the Communist Party USA, and he assisted, endorsed, and campaigned for radical causes and politicians, according to

In the 1960s Bond was elected to the Georgia legislature three times, but each time the legislature refused to seat him because of his agitation against the Vietnam War. Bond called on the communist lawyer Leonard Boudin to represent him. Boudin’s other clients included the government of Fidel Castro, Soviet agent of influence Paul Robeson, and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg. Boudin’s daughter, Kathie, was a Weather Underground terrorist, who served 25 years for her participation in the 1981 Brinks robbery that left two policemen and one Brinks guard dead.

Along with radical activists such as Ella Baker, Bond co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. SNCC was later led by black separatists Stokeley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown, who openly advocated guerrilla warfare in U.S. cities. In 1967 Bond served as co-chair of the National Conference for New Politics (NCNP), described by the late Sen. James Eastland as a group “working hand-in-glove with the Communist Party” to foment “revolution in the United States.”

Bond’s most significant contact as co-chair of the NCNP was fellow NCNP member Herbert Marcuse. A Marxist who fled Nazi Germany in 1933, Marcuse ultimately took up residence in a number of American universities, including Columbia, Harvard, Brandeis, and the University of California, San Diego, where he mentored the black communist, Angela Davis. Bond and Marcuse helped found the radical journal In These Times.

Bond visited Castro’s Cuba in 1959 and was “enchanted by the revolution.” Following a repeat visit in 2006 he said that it “simply reinforced my admiration for the Cuban people and the society they are building.” (See Bond remains on SPLC’s board to this day.

SPLC’s board of directors also includes James Rucker, who co-founded Color of Change in 2005 with self-described communist Van Jones. Before that, Rucker was grassroots organizing director at the Soros-funded activist group MoveOn.

Another board member, Patricia Clark, spent time as National Criminal Justice Representative of the American Friends Service Committee. This nominally Quaker organization was created by socialist Quakers in 1917 and began colluding with Communists in the 1920s, when it worked with Soviet agents Jessica Smith, Harold Ware, and John Abt. (See

Gabrielle Lyon, an SPLC research fellow, has spoken glowingly of domestic terrorist Bill Ayers. Ayers is famous for his Weather Underground years and has yet to be tried, along with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, for the murder of San Francisco police Sgt. Brian McDonnell in 1970. Larry Grathwohl, the only FBI informant to ever successfully penetrate the Weathermen, has testified under oath that Ayers told him of their complicity in the bombing that killed McDonnell. This case is still open. (See

More recently, an editorial written by SPLC’s Mark Potok was published in the Communist Party USA newspaper, People’s World. Potok claimed the editorial was free for publication anywhere, and he didn’t control where it appeared. When the Daily Caller news website asked Potok last year if he objected to the Communist Party newspaper printing his piece, he refused comment. Potok did say, however, that the SPLC uses an organization called OtherWords to place SPLC’s op-eds in other journals.OtherWords is a nonprofit editorial service of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), one of the most influential far-left organizations in the United States. (IPS was profiled in the February 2011 Foundation Watch.)

King of Sophistry
Radical leftists are extremely adept at the use of language and propaganda. They have to be. An ideology that has brought more hardship, misery, and death over the last century than all the wars of history combined always needs image makeovers. The Soviet Union’s first leader, Vladimir Lenin, explained, “We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us.”

The entire leftist movement has adopted this technique. Thus, any person who opposes illegal immigration becomes a “xenophobe.” Any person who cites the devastating adverse impacts of “anti-poverty” programs is “selfish” or worse. Any person who opposes affirmative action is a “racist.” Anyone who opposes ever-increasing taxes must be “greedy.”

Straw man arguments, misinformation, and other forms of sophistry, coupled with vitriolic smears of opponents can easily intimidate average citizens, who haven’t the time or inclination to look deeper and are naturally anxious about being tarred with the same brush. With sufficient media promotion, this fraudulent narrative becomes accepted as the “truth,” even chic. Most people want to be seen as siding with the “good guys.”

Critics are isolated and polarized, and despite the Left’s phony characterization of a deep-pocketed Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, the Left’s critics are usually independent voices of little or no means, not necessarily even conservative, with scant resources to defend themselves against defamation campaigns and frivolous lawsuits, which are favored tactics of the well-heeled SPLC and other leftist groups. Far-left agitator Neal Rauhauser even admitted as much when he advocated for a policy of “lawfare” against political opponents:

We’re dealing with people who have likely had no interaction with the court system beyond a traffic ticket; the potential for a pro se litigant to force them into expensive, long distance, lengthy, discovery laden litigation doesn’t seem to cross their minds. The reality of travel, or frightful expenses, or summary judgments needs to be made real. We probably need to make a very visible example of at least one of them before the rest understand. (See

Cultural Marxism and Hate Crimes
This kind of sophistry also has roots in the teachings of Julian Bond’s friend and leftist icon Herbert Marcuse. He was an influential member of the Marxist Institute for Social Research that was founded in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1923 and modeled after Moscow’s Marx-Engels Institute. It came to be known simply as “the Frankfurt School.” Marcuse and other scholars affiliated with the Institute reestablished it in the U.S. following their exodus from Germany, and developed philosophical studies specifically dedicated to subverting American culture.

Marcuse was often called the Father of the New Left, and he helped pioneer the ideas of political correctness and hate crimes. In a 1965 tract called “Repressive Tolerance,” Marcuse declared:

This essay examines the idea of tolerance in our advanced industrial society. The conclusion reached is that the realization of the objective of tolerance would call for intolerance toward prevailing policies, attitudes, opinions, and the extension of tolerance to policies, attitudes, and opinions which are outlawed or suppressed….

As he explained, the way to fix the “repressive tolerance” that Americans suffer because of the First Amendment is to suppress all voices except those from the Left:

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.… Not ‘equal’ but more representation of the Left would be equalization of the prevailing inequality.

Today you can see this tactic in operation every day when left-wing professors, journalists, and politicians ridicule, misrepresent, ignore, or threaten anyone they disagree with. The Southern Poverty Law Center assists in this effort.

Even more ominously, but in line with Marcuse’s call to arms, the SPLC is a consultant to both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, and the latter has labeled conservatives potential “domestic terrorists.” The SPLC has not been identifying enemies of America. It has been identifying enemies of the Left.

Some of the people and groups on the SPLC’s hate lists genuinely do express hatred and bigotry, like Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, the New Black Panther Party, the KKK, Nazi parties, and the like. But mixed in are many well known, widely respected individuals and groups who have taken principled positions on matters of national importance. Their only sin is their outspoken opposition to the Left’s radical designs.

By cataloging the statements and writings of individuals and groups with whom they disagree, the SPLC is also creating a paper trail to use if and when hate crimes laws are strengthened sufficiently to provide pretexts for lawsuits or other legal action. This is a not-so-subtle threat. That sort of attack has begun to happen in Canada, Britain, and Sweden.

The SPLC’s interaction with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI carries another threat. By deliberately mischaracterizing conservatives and tea partiers as “extremists,” the SPLC implies they have a potential for violence and thus offers a justification for the government to keep tabs on these potential “domestic terrorists.”

The Left, on the other hand, has a firmly established record of militancy, violence, and treasonous, unscrupulous and disgusting anti-social behavior. Occupy Wall Street, for example, is an anti-social, violent movement of the extreme Left. The Black Bloc is a violent organization of the extreme Left, and the FBI recently conducted raids on suspected Black Bloc members.

Why have we heard nothing about it from the SPLC? Are these genuine domestic terrorists on the group’s “Hate Map”? No, nor is Adbusters, an “anti-consumerist” magazine that hatched Occupy Wall Street and that has expressed support for the Black Bloc. (For more on the organization behind the magazine, the Adbusters Media Foundation, see the profile in Foundation Watch, January 2012.)

What about the blatantly terrorist Jumaat al-Fuqra and its 35 U.S.-based terrorist training camps? Crickets from the SPLC. (See The same is true for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Why are none of these groups listed in the SPLC’s “Intelligence” files? What about the Communist Party? What about union thugs like AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, implicated in murder, or United Steelworkers’ president Leo Gerard, who exhorted Occupy Wall Street to “more militancy?” All prone to violence, and they proudly say so!

Despite a mountainous record of violence from left-wing individuals and groups, there have never been any left-wing groups identified on the SPLC’s “hate groups” list.

Come to think of it, why isn’t the SPLC listed?

After a bombing attempt on May Day this year by five Occupy Cleveland activists was thwarted, a reporter for National Review asked the SPLC if it planned to put Occupy Wall Street on its “hate group” list? SPLC’s stunning answer: “We’re not really set up to cover the extreme Left.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a wealthy, well-connected, organized attack machine of the extreme political Left. It shares strategies, goals, and tactics with other similar organizations and colludes with them in campaigns of defamation, disinformation and legal threats to silence and/or criminalize political opponents.

The SPLC has unjustifiably secured itself a position of influence within our government and society. Its very presence threatens our freedoms and First Amendment rights. It abuses our system of justice, while hiding behind a Constitution for which it has little respect.

James Simpson is an economist, businessman, and freelance writer. His writings have been published in Accuracy in Media, American Thinker, Big Government, Washington Times, WorldNetDaily, FrontPage Magazine, and elsewhere.


Reposted by  9/27/16



September 27, 2016

From Rangefire

Startling & Thought-Provoking New Analysis of LaVoy Finicum Shooting — with Additional Commentary by Attorney Fred Grant

lf-assass-1Note:  Supposedly there is an ongoing FBI investigation regarding a coverup by FBI HRT agents involved in that incident. In light of all this subject matter, new videos, anonymously produced, and recently posted on social media, are particularly thought-provoking.  After several views, we have found the video analysis to be quite persuasive, if not compelling. In addition to the first general analysis video, we have now also added an additional video devoted to analysis of the purpose of the FBI foam bullet.  TM

Below the videos you can also find exclusive, inside analysis and commentary by Attorney Fred Kelly Grant.


I have written only one other time about what I thought of the shooting of LaVoy Finicum as an unnecessary, and deliberate acceleration of the “take over” of the Malheur Wildlife buildings in Oregon.  And, I haven’t followed the case since visiting with Mrs. Finicum and her deciding to seek counsel elsewhere.  I presented her with a plan of action designed to do two things (1) secure her financial assistance for the rest of her life under the Civil Rights Act, and (2) to protect her ranch from what someone will someday do to try to take it.  When she chose to go elsewhere, I did not think it appropriate for me to write more about the case, and I have done nothing but follow the news stories of the enormous failures of due process of law regarding the defendants who were arrested.  During my prosecutorial and defense career I have seen first degree murderers who frightened jailers treated less severely than what the press reports about the treatment of these men.

I have just watched [the YouTube videos shown above]. I  have not and will not name the person who sent me the link because I would not want him linked to my absolute statements in this piece.  But, there is full transparency as to who is showing the video and why.

On the basis of the video, as a prosecutor, I would file first degree, premeditated murder charges against officers who shot the deadly shots and at least accomplice before the fact against the officer who fired the foam bullet that caused Finicum to put his hands to the left of his chest.

I would argue to any Grand Jury and to any Petit Jury that his firing of that foam bullet, and then running out of sight instead of trying to subdue a man he knew he had only wounded, was proof that he was the “set up” man.  Those of you who have seen the prior films and photos will no doubt remember that LaVoy Finicum got out of the vehicle with his hands in the air, arms fully outstretched, in an obvious surrender move.

Someone, somehow, had to make it appear that he was going to reach for a weapon.  I know I could secure an indictment for first degree murder from a Grand Jury, so my focus here is on how I would talk to the members of the Petit Jury. My question to them in closing argument would be simply “If he were going to resist armed officers why did he come out of the vehicle with his arms high in the air; why didn’t he come out shooting?  Think about that for just a moment, in fact, think about it for about ten seconds while I watch the clock and keep quiet.”

Jurors do that, they think when you give them moments of silence.  More impact comes from their silent thought about your question, than if you immediately answered it for them.

Then my argument would go something like this: Keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, he had already been shot at in the vehicle at least twice.  He had already told the others in the vehicle that ‘they are going to kill us’.  So, why, in the name of common sense, did he come out with his hands up so high in the air that he couldn’t possibly get to a gun without being gunned down.  No, you members of this jury are regular people, with regular minds, and the voir dire showed that you have the ability to listen, but more importantly to hear, and to think.  You demonstrated that in your answers to the questions put to you by defense counsel and I.  With that ability, with that sense, you cannot possibly watch the video you just saw without observing:

  1. The FBI set up the roadblock in a position that violated every rule of police safety for roadblocks—safety for themselves as well as the public;
  2. The placement of that roadblock on a virtually blind curve with the snow banks along the highway so that a vehicle they knew was traveling at a high rate of speed would not see it in time to avoid acceleration of the situation involving  a “take over” of a wildlife center in the winter;
  3. Firing shots at the vehicle as it was still moving toward them at a high rate of speed, not knowing whether those shots would cause the car to crash into their parked cars, perhaps injuring or killing their own;
  4. LaVon getting out of the vehicle with his hands in the air even as he exited the door; he didn’t just put them up once he was outside, he had them up when he came out of the vehicle.
  5. His hands and arms were in the air, arms completely upstretched like this—-in as well known a surrender symbol as any symbol known to any one of you or any one of your family who has ever watched a western movie, comedy or detective show.
  6. As he walks with his hands empty and his arms upstretched to their highest, had anyone shot to kill him, it would have been too clearly a murder, so he had to be set up.
  7. Now we reach the unidentified officer who fires at LaVoy and we know from the evidence that he fired a foam bullet at his left chest; we see it strike LaVoy. You have heard our testimony as to the impact of such a foam bullet from the distance it was fired.  The impact hurt him.

Think about it for just a moment—take a moment of silence while I shut up for a moment, and think about being hit in the chest with such velocity—what is the first thing you would do?  Just think. ………And I know because I know you are reasoning people that during that silence you would have grabbed at that spot where you were hit.

When we see a football player go down in a pile we see him grab his knee or his shoulder or his ankle; when we see a basketball player twist his knee, what does he do?  He grabs that knee.  When we see a batter hit by a fast ball what does he do?  Before he threatens the pitcher he reaches and grabs at the point at which the ball hit.    I used to tell my young ball players “rub it off” when a baseball took a bad bounce.  It is not some mystical theory as the defense would have you accept without using the common sense that you brought into this court room.   It is a reaction we see in life, in person, or on television every day of our lives.

  1. LaVoy did exactly what you thought about when I graced you with a few seconds of silence awhile ago. He reached for the spot of the pain.
  2. And, that ladies and gentlemen, gave the killers the excuse they give you here—the excuse that they thought he was going for a gun.

I look at these experienced defendants at the table and wonder whether they  really think that you twelve souls believe that they really feared  he was going for a gun inside his heavy coat when he could have come out of that car shooting had that been his intent.

I ask you ladies and gentlemen to look at these defendants—you’ve heard about their training, their expertise, their policy of de-escalation—look them in the eyes and tell me whether you think they were that dumb.  No.  No.  No. They were not.

  1. 10. Where in the world, much less where in this courtroom to support his fellow officers, is the man who fired the foam bullet? You saw him fire, then turn and disappear behind the roadblock car—never to be heard from or identified again.  He wasn’t just some bystander was he?  He was one of these defendants’ comrades in arms.  Where is he?  Why is he not here so I could have asked him why he dashed away at a time when he could probably have subdued LaVoy who was reeling from the pain.

As you know, I asked the court to let you review that video in the jury room and within his lawful discretion he denied my request.  He granted the defense objection.  But the fact that you don’t have it with  you doesn’t remove it from your minds and memories.

You’ve heard days of evidence as to the “take over”, the reasons for it, the reasons why the Government could not allow it to continue, the idea that LaVoy Finicum and his friends or “co-defendants” as the defense would call them, set out to speak to a sheriff. You’ve heard those days of testimony because in the American system of justice designed by our Founders we give these defendants more chance than they  gave LaVoy on that Oregon highway.

Were it not for this video you saw, it might be a bit difficult for me to argue that this is a case of premeditated first degree murder.  I still would have felt justified in arguing that the law was broken by these defendants in whom we place our trust for law enforcement—but maybe not premeditated, deliberate, first degree murder.

With the video, I have no qualms, no hesitance, in asking you to find that beyond every possible reasonable doubt, these men are guilty of taking the life of LaVoy Finicum intentionally and with premeditation.

What it took God years to develop into a hard working rancher, a good husband and father to eleven children— this man LaVoy Finicum— it took these defendants less than twenty seconds to destroy.  You twelve, sworn and true, are the source for what earthly justice we can give him, his wife, his children.  I ask you most earnestly to return verdicts of guilty—–guilty of murder in the first degree.”


Note:  Attorney Fred Grant is a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore, MD.  He currently resides near Boise, ID.  To learn more about Fred Grant, click his PROFILE. 

Reposted by  9/27/16

September 27, 2016

Yosemite superintendent apologizes to unhappy park workers

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher talks to reporters in August after President Barack Obama's speech in the park.

Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher talks to reporters in August after President Barack Obama’s speech in the park. Tim Sheehan The Fresno Bee

September 25, 2016

Background on Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

It is currently funded by George Soros and is an extreme progressive organization which obsesses over ‘patriot groups.’ According to Discover the Networks:

  • Southern Poverty Law Center: This organization monitors the activities of what it calls “hate groups” in the United States. It exaggerates the prevalence of white racism directed against American minorities.
  • Formed in 1971  as a ‘civil rights litigation’ organization, SPLC has ties with the American Communist Party and its articles often appear in Communist newspapers, as well as hard-left progressive publications.


‘This Land Is Our Land’: The Movement Bigger Than The Bundys’

OPB’s Conrad Wilson and the Oregonian/OregonLive’s Maxine Bernstein update us on the last full week of the government’s case against the Malheur refuge occupiers.

Then, we take a look at the so-called Patriot Movement — a loosely-connected network of organizations that are united in the belief the federal government has overstepped its authority.

Mark Potok is a senior fellow with the Southern Poverty Law Center. His job is to monitor groups that are a part of what he calls the “extreme right.” That includes everything from racist groups like the KKK and to groups like the Bundys, whose concerns revolve around severe distrust of the federal government.

Potok says many people in the groups he tracks believe there is “a secret plan to impose draconian gun control on all Americans” and “those who resist the coming seizure will be thrown into concentration camps that have been secretly built by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

SPLC has identified nearly 1,000 groups across the country with these kinds of beliefs and connects the groups to the philosophies that motivated the Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho; the Waco, Texas, siege; and the Oklahoma City bombing.

Potok says there is a way to curb the movement.

“In the late ‘90s, the FBI made quite an effort … to meet with militiamen, to go out to have coffee to talk to these people about their concerns and fears, and in fact I think there’s a fair amount of evidence to suggest that that was quite effective,” Potok said. “You realize the person you’re having coffee with is an actual human being just like you are.”

Joseph Rice is the head of the Josephine County chapter of the Oath Keepers — a group that Potok sees as central to so-called patriot groups. But Rice thinks SPLC is uninformed about his group. “I’ve never spoken to those folks,” he said.

Rice was in Harney County when Ammon Bundy led a group to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but Rice and his group didn’t join the occupation. Instead, he and a group of like-minded organizations known as the “Pacific Patriots Network” stuck around to provide security in town. The group said it was there to prevent another Waco or Ruby Ridge-like incident.

Those incidents, he says, were “lessons in history.” The individuals involved in those incidents “were living their life as they chose to live freely, without impact to others. It was only when the federal government came in they had impact, and that resulted in loss of life.”

Though he didn’t endorse it, Rice insists that the takeover of the refuge was an act of civil disobedience. And while he disagrees with the charges against Ammon Bundy and the other defendants, he does think the incident has drawn attention to issues around the federal control of land, which could be good for the aims of his group.

Reposted by  9/25/16

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