Trump and the Ammon Bundy Playbook

In a surprise move, Donald “I’m the King of the World!” Trump announced over the weekend that there could be “violence” at the Republican Convention in July if he doesn’t get the nomination.

For any of us who’ve been following the threats of mayhem from the Bundy clan that led the armed occupation of a beautiful wildlife refuge in Oregon and “stood-off” the Bureau of Land Management over unpaid grazing fees and other illegal behavior in Nevada, Trump’s words leave us with a big yawn.

He has apparently been listening to the story, too, and is using the same tactics the so-called Sovereign Citizen patriots used (Happy Patriot’s Day, by the way) in both places.

Their basic line has been “There will be no violence if we get our way.”

The last time you may have heard this was from a three-year-old who had thrown him or herself down on the floor and was yammering about not going to bed.

The difference is that most three-year-olds don’t carry AK-47s or other serious firearms.

Mr. “I’m the King of the World” might want to check and see how well the Bundy clan’s threats worked in Oregon and Nevada. One of their own died in a “suicide by cop” maneuver in Oregon and the rest of them are in one jail or another awaiting a federal trial for conspiracy and a long list of other grievances. A possible RICO charge is waiting in the wings.

Trump might also want to check the record on what happened when the Bundy gang made their calls for fellow patriots to arrive in Oregon or Nevada and warned that “thousands would answer the call” (and then everybody would be sorry, says the three-year-old).

The hard truth is that even Trump’s “loyal supporters” are not going to drive or fly to his rescue in Cleveland – or probably any place else except the ones who already live in Ohio and some of them are in jail now for their part with Mr. Ammon “God sent us” Bundy.

Granted, a handful of people did answer the Bundy call but most of them are now in jail, too. Protesters – ten or twenty of them – do show up at the courthouses, mostly the same folks every time with nothing better to do on a spring day.

People protest on Facebook and post “threatening” messages, but they’re not likely to climb out of their Barcaloungers and lumber out to the car and drive someplace to get violent.

In the end, the Bundys and their cohort stand alone.

As will Donald Trump, his cheesy tin “King of the World” crown battered and bent. Despite the occasional violence at his events, the actions of a few people are not going to bring down the government for Trump anymore than it did for the Bundy gang.

And he – like they – might want to note that making threats of violence is against the law and the federal law enforcement officers are very sensitive to that behavior these days.

This is the moment for Donald Trump to rise above it, to take the high road, to inject dignity into these last months before the convention and create a legacy for himself worth having.

He won’t, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Jesse Helms – The Walking Dead

Jesse Helms is alive and well and apparently still among the living dead in North Carolina.

The latest anti-LGBT move by the good Christians of North Carolina gives a person pause.

North Carolina has worked hard the last few years to get beyond it’s reputation as a redneck state and they’ve done pretty well. I lived in Charlotte in 1982 when Helms was still in office. North Carolina was something of a cultural backwater, still racist, still supporting the image of southern belles, and I’ve been happy to see the progress over the years. Until today.

In 1982, it was difficult to be even a straight woman in business – which I was. Suspect, you know. Several years later, after I’d moved away and after what seemed to be progress had been made, I had to return on business and was staying at a fancy hotel in Charlotte nearly filled with folks for one kind of religious conference or another. I got in the elevator with a nice looking middle-aged couple who asked if my husband and I were there for the conference. I said no, I was there on business. They asked then if my husband was there on business, too. I said, no, I was there by myself.

Then a strange thing happened. The couple visibly moved away from me to the farthest corner of the elevator and clutched each other as if they’d just discovered themselves in a den of iniquity and not an elevator at the Radisson. I checked my hair to be sure I had not sprouted horns. The south was and apparently still is a very strange place.

In 1982, Jesse Helms was holding forth. In 2016, his narrow-minded mean old spirit lives on like a zombie.

North Carolina should be ashamed of itself. It probably isn’t, but it should be.

Where’s Your Political Home? (Hint, it has nothing to do with where you live.)

Although I’ve been following the politics of America over the past couple of months, I haven’t felt compelled to add my comments to the general online uproar until today.

Two articles in today’s news sent me back to the keyboard: an op-ed in the New York Times that outlined why (to paraphrase), Donald Trump is the candidate our forefathers warned us about and another on several news sites about the Sanders rally in Arizona with a rock concert vibe including one fan who ripped off her shirt to expose a message of support written across her bosom. The Grateful Dems?

These two articles coalesced in my mind into a picture of today’s political scene. Reader beware – I’m writing here in generalizations and I invite you to proceed at your own risk. But generalizations will serve what I have to say because I know you can provide the specifics yourselves.

I’ve lived all over the country in my relatively long wandering life. I have a good feel for what happens from Maine to southern California and from Seattle to Charlotte. I’m quite aware of the diversity of views in every single place, but I’m also aware of how we identify ourselves in ways that have nothing to do with geographical lines.

So, I offer you now my three political Americas:

1- The “I’m mad as hell” people who really are angry about just about anything that walks or talks. These people could, as the old joke goes, “start a fight in an empty room.” The only way to reach them is to be angrier than they are and meaner and cruder and…well, you get it.

2- The “I’m above it because I’m already rich and entitled and you’re not” people that pretty much disavow mingling with the rabble except to get votes. These people know each other well, dine at the same clubs, graduate from the same schools, own each other’s banks or other businesses, and base decisions on which candidate will add the most to their off-shore accounts or, if it’s the case, their public image.

3- The “What the hell, let’s give it a try” people are open to what’s new and to who’s new, are not locked into anything that would prevent clear thinking or innovation, but who respect those who have already earned their stripes with hard work and not entitlement. These people come from everywhere and are the heirs, at least in spirit, of those who founded the country – took risks, crossed open seas (truly or metaphorically), opened their minds to possibilities knowing that the win is not always guaranteed.

Living in so many places, I know full well, that people from all three of these groups can be found in every place in America. For me, it’s not about being in a certain place that says who you are. It’s about how you think. And how you interact with the universe. I met people in Maine who could have been born and bred westerners without a hitch. And people in Oregon who would really be closer to their political kin in Ohio. And so it goes.

The posturing and posing and infighting we’ve witnessed the last too-many months gets in the way of the best we could be. More to the point, it serves none of us out here on the big U.S. map except those paid to run the campaigns. And they, too, fall into one of those three categories.

Worse, all the wrangling precludes a lot more fun we could be having.

Think about it. Why do you think they were named political parties? I mean really.

Okay, Who Was In Charge of the Beer Nuts?

Before anybody gets their camo knickers in a twist, let me just say that I support the right of any individual or group to protest just about anything. I protested the Vietnam war and bad teachers for my kids. I protested racial inequality and I didn’t eat grapes for a year while supporting the United Farm Workers. I even have my name on a Federal injunction in support of a native-American speaker who had been banned on a campus in the northwest.

I did not, however, find it necessary to carry so much as a BB gun during any of those protests.

Nor did I forget to bring the snacks.

The Bundy brigade now occupying – if you can really call it that – a bird refuge in eastern Oregon, a bird refuge!, have turned out to be the goofiest bunch of yahoos to mount a revolution since Woody Allen in his very funny movie, “Bananas.” Remember when Woody had to get food for the troops, which he did at the nearest diner in the jungle – all those grilled cheese, tuna and BLT sandwiches and the wheelbarrows full of coleslaw? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On7U-x_s_EE

It was the call for snacks that got me thinking about “Bananas.”

I mean, if you’re going to plan a revolution or even a protest with a tagline like “We’re going to be here for years,” and back it up by adding that this wasn’t a spur-of-the moment thing and that they’d been planning it for a while, wouldn’t you think somebody would have remembered the beer nuts and Cheetos?

Especially a gang that looks to be in the photos in the press largely a bunch of overweight and overage guys who’ve probably never gone more than a couple of bowling nights without their snacks.

If somebody hasn’t already bought the rights to this, I want dibs on writing the script for what could turn out to be the funniest “western” since Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” I mean, these guys are 30 miles from the nearest 7-11 in the middle of winter. Did they think somebody would deliver?

And what kind of whiny-ass revolutionaries are they anyway who have to tweet for potato chips?

This protest has had fiasco written all over it from the beginning when the locals said they didn’t want any protest, they were doing fine, “Bundys, go home.” I can imagine some of the conversations among the protesters and they’re pretty hilarious.

Like everyone else, I do hope this little party can be ended with no violence. We’ve seen your guns, boys, and my goodness yes, they’re sooo big. But it’s time to put them away now and let Harney County get back to normal.

If you don’t, you’ll be sorry when the birdwatching crowd gets back to the refuge. Never get between a birder and his whooping crane! And you’re not going to like the headlines one bit: “Bundy-led Militia Routed by Audubon Society.”

If It Isn’t One Yahoo, It’s Another

I feel like Charlie Brown this morning as I bang my head against the wall and mutter “Good grief.”

If it isn’t Donald Trump running off at the mouth, it’s the Bundy boys leading a band of armed troublemakers who went to Oregon to protest the Feds because God told them to do it. It’s a real WTF moment.

And as a native-born, fifth-generation eastern Oregonian, I’m more than angry about it.

I have a little insight into the Bundy gang after spending a year in southern Utah where God tells a lot people to do things like this. One of Bundy’s leaders calls himself Capt. Moroni and therein lies a tale. Moroni, of course, is an important figure in Mormon history and you’ll find him atop many a Mormon building.

Utah and Nevada are filled with folks like Bundy who hate the U.S. government and fight it every chance they get. I was there when the Bundy stand-off took place just miles from where I was living in the spring of 2014. I keep asking myself why these people don’t just secede from the union they hate so much.

At any rate, the Bundy gang has ironically now come to “make a stand” for a couple of Oregon ranchers, the Hammonds, who do not want them to make such a stand and are willing to serve the prison terms set for them by the government for arson they committed on Federal lands. The Hammonds want nothing to do with the Bundy gang, but the Bundy gang will by God stand for them anyway, take over a federal building in a wildlife refuge and threaten to kill anybody who gets in the way because – well, because the Bundy gang leading this militia hoohah doesn’t have good sense. And they’re whiners.

The Bundy gang wants no law at all about use of federal lands which do not belong to them in the first place.

“God was not pleased” is the same excuse terrorists use to do whatever bad things they set out to do. My hope is the Bundy gang will all be arrested this time and sentenced to long prison terms for terrorism.

Bundy’s God might not be pleased about that, but sane people everywhere will be.

2015 – The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Nuts

It’s New Year’s Eve, the night for celebrations and confetti and dancing and all that jazz.

I hope nobody’s out there waiting for my list of the ten best things of 2015 or the ten things to watch for in 2016 or the ten of anything at all.

Actually, 2015 has been an amazing year. A lot of good things. Some not so good. Some of it downright nuts.

I keep hearing Bob Dylan’s song in my head:
“People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed.”

2016 could turn out to be about the same. I fall back on Billie Holiday’s advice: “Pray for the future. Hope for the best.”

But you know what’s been happening as well as I do, so rather than dwell on anything serious, let me just wish you a Happy New Year, however you’re spending it and also say, “This is how we used to do it!” If you were there, you know just what I’m talkin’ about. If you were not, there’s still time!

Crank it up, boys… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgdufzXvjqw

Cheers!

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