The Bundy Ranch Standoff Was Only the Beginning for America’s Right-Wing Militias
For two decades the US government has tried to get Cliven Bundy to remove his cows from federal land, and for two decades the Nevada rancher has steadfastly refused, defying court orders and attempts to negotiate a settlement for the $1.1 million he owes in federal grazing fees. Finally, last week, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took matters into its own hands and started seizing cattle that had been illegally grazing on government property. Things went downhill from there.
For right-wing militias and paramilitary groups founded around a collective paranoid belief that the federal government is just looking for an excuse to impose martial law, images of armed federal agents forcibly seizing cows basically means it’s DEFCON 1. By Saturday, as many as 1,000 anti-BLM protestors from as far away as Virginia, New Hampshire, and Georgia had set up camp in Bunkerville, an arid patch of land where the BLM was rounding up the Bundy cattle. Packing handguns and assault rifles, the protesters carried signs featuring slogans like “Tyranny Is Alive,” “Where’s the Justice?” and “Militia Sighn In [sic],” and many said they were prepared for a shoot-out with the federal government. The mood was such that even Glenn Beck was wary of the crowd, announcing on his show that “there’s about 10 or 15 percent of the people who are talking about this online that are truly frightening.”
Tom Burke was driving through a sleepy part of Grand Rapids, Michigan—an empty neighborhood full of abandoned warehouses—when he first noticed the vehicle tailing him. “I was like, Why is this car turning left whenever I turn left?” he recalled. “I figured out I was being followed.”
Tom, a 49-year-old who has been active in antiwar and labor circles for decades, had been monitored for months by the FBI, and that morning, September 24, 2010, the Bureau was moving against him and his fellow activists. Agents had raided the homes of some of Tom’s friends, seizing computers and tearing apart rooms as part of an investigation into whether they were planning an armed revolution and providing aid to terrorist organizations. In response, Tom was on his way to an internet café to issue a press release telling the world what was happening, which was about all he could do given the circumstances.
That same morning, he and his wife were served with subpoenas demanding they testify before a grand jury. By December, 23 activists across the Midwest were subpoenaed and asked to answer for their activism. Among other things, they were accused of providing “material support” for terrorism, a charge that can mean anything from providing guns to a terrorist group to providing any sort of “advice or assistance” to members of such a group, even if that advice is “lay down your arms.” (Former president Jimmy Carterwarned a few months before the raids that the threat of a “material support” charge “inhibits the work of human-rights and conflict-resolution groups.”)
Nearly four years later no one has been charged with a crime, and an unsealed affidavit, which the FBI used to get a federal judge to sign off on the 2010 raids, even notes that this group of mostly middle-aged peace activists explicitly rejected the idea of providing arms to anyone. The document, released by court order last month in response to requests from the activists, shows that an undercover special agent was intent on luring people into saying ominous things about “revolution” and, sometimes, some of these people indulged her, which provided the pretext for legally harassing a group known to oppose US policy at home and abroad.
We need to support these men, our finest specimens. The ones whose asses bounce in their jock straps as they strut toward the shower in the locker room. The ones who jog shirtless through the park, the sweat cascading in rivulets into their sopping shorts. The ones who sit with their legs so wide on the subway, calling attention from all quarters to the fleshy mass in their shorts that is just dying to be sucked. These are our champions, and we really should be championing them.
I’ve certainly done my part. One night, back in college, I was driving home with my bro friend Dave, who was majoring in econ and pussy pounding. He had a bad night with one too many green Jell-O shots (green is always the worst color), and the girl he was getting handsy with had the audacity to reject him. He had made a big scene about how it didn’t bother him, how he had bigger and hotter girls, and how he gets as much ass as he could ever want. But in the car he was different. He was despondent, clearly lingering on his rejection. “You OK?” I asked. “Yeah, bra. You know, bitches,” he said. “Yeah,” I replied putting my hand on the knee of his jeans. I left it there a little too long, and when he looked at me, I didn’t know what to expect.
“Dude, will you do me a favor?” he asked. “Will you tickle my back?” He took off his white baseball cap and pulled his T-shirt over his head, his rippling muscles flexing and relaxing in astounding patterns as he bent over in the passenger’s seat. I rubbed the tips of my fingers across his smooth skin for what seemed like hours. Eventually he sat up, and I moved my hands. “Keep going,” he said, letting me cup the firm contours of his chest, the stiff prickles of his nipples, the trail of hair that lead into his jeans. I rubbed everywhere, down onto the crotch of his jeans, which was now propped up with what those “bitches” didn’t want. I let my hands rest on the button of his jeans, unsure of how to proceed, thinking as much about his own pleasure as what was happening in my own jeans. I hovered there a minute, and he sat up straight in the chair, his head back and eyes closed waiting to get what he wanted—no, what he deserved.
“What are you waiting for?” he said, remaining still.
Who is going to save this country from drowning in a sea of Chinese debt and high fructose corn syrup? It’s not the mild-mannered hipsters obsessed with mustache wax and crafting artisanal honey in their urban sanctuaries. No, they only create small batches of things, trying to leverage their modesty as authenticity. Modesty did not cure polio. Authenticity didn’t win the Cold War. Honey isn’t going to get Putin out of Crimea.
Death’s Messenger: One Soldier’s Job Delivering the Worst News Imaginable
“There’s still a war going on,” Captain Richard Siemion began. “There are still people dying—not as many as before—but it’s still happening. And when it does, the Army sends somebody like me to break the news.”
Captain Siemion was recently honorably discharged but was one of several casualty notification officers serving in upstate New York. Whenever a soldier’s death was reported, the CNO on duty would have four hours to track down the deceased’s family and deliver some of the worst news they would ever hear.
CNOs have been the focus of some interest over the last decade of American war. In 2006, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News published a Pulitzer Prize–winning series about the Marines tasked with the same job as Captain Siemion, and in 2009 Woody Harrelson starred in the independent film The Messenger. He played a CNO.
I sat down with the 31-year-old Siemion to talk about his first-hand experience telling families of active-service soldiers that their loved one have died in action.
VICE: Did you volunteer for the job? Captain Siemon: We call it being voluntold. I had just gotten back from my first tour in Afghanistan when my Battalion Commander sent me to the training course.
What did you learn there? You learn that there’s no right way to tell someone that their loved one is not returning from war, but there are a lot of wrong ways to do it. If you look at history, the way they used to tell families about a death: You had telegrams, you had taxi drivers paid to ring doorbells, you had word of mouth. Through trial and error, the United States Army got it as close to right as they can. I was always the kind of leader who didn’t go 100 percent by the book, but in this case, I went right by the book, because there is a reason why they have it the way they do. Not much room for creativity.
What do you think they got right? One thing is the idea that no job is more important than this job. So, if you’re in the middle of an important brief with a Colonel and you get called to give a notification, you say, “Gotta go.” Another thing is that you go in person. It shows the importance. Obviously you’re never going to see that individual again, or be their best friend, but if my brother died, I’d rather have it straight—face-to-face.
The Lost Boys of California Are Literally Dying to Pick Your Fruit
t the age when most American teenagers are trying to decide whom to ask to prom, Ernesto Valenzuela was instead weighing whether it was worse to die of thirst in the desert or have his throat slit by gangsters.
That’s the choice the 16-year-old faced in his hometown of Mapulaca, Honduras, a drowsy village where MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangsters are known for recruiting youth—sometimes as young as kindergartners—into their cartels. If the kids refuse, they are often killed. Now Ernesto was being recruited, and he didn’t want to end up one of the 6,000 people murdered each year in Honduras. With a total population just shy of 8 million, that means nearly one of every 1,000 Hondurans is a victim of homicide, making it the most dangerous place—after the war zones of Iraq, Somalia, and Syria—in the world.1
After mulling it over for months—and trying to dodge the tattooed gang members who wanted to sign him up—Ernesto decided his potential fate at home presented far more danger than what he might face at any distant desert crossing. So, early one morning in June 2013, after his mother sobbed and begged him to stay safe, he set out for a place he’d only seen in movies, a place where he’d heard a kid like himself—with just a fifth-grade education—could earn $60 a day working in the fields: America.
They’re Only ‘Illegals’ if They’re Brown: American Conservatives Welcome Immigrants—Just as Long as They’re White Christians
The key to getting asylum in the United States is to be white, socially conservative, and really into Jesus—or at least that’s the lesson imparted by the US government’s decisionnot to deport a family running away from Germany’s educational system. And conservatives—the same sort who complain about immigrants destroying our culture, insofar as we have one—couldn’t be happier.
Devout Christians Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the US in 2008 because they wanted to keep their kids out of school, for religious reasons. Although Germany allows children to attend faith-based schools, those schools must comply with German educational standards—and apparently none of them were devout enough for the Romeikes, who moved to Tennessee after being hit with thousands of dollars in fines by the German government for homeschooling their kids.
“Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free,”wrote Todd Starnes, a bigot who appears on Fox News, in a recent article on the plight of the Romeikes that gives the unfortunate impression they’re here to spread disease, slaughter the natives, and steal their land. The family of nine’s case has been taken up by all the usual right-wing suspects, from Breitbart to TownHall to the Blaze, Glenn Beck’s bullshit “news” service. The family and its supporters say the German state has no right to indoctrinate their children and to dictate what they can and cannot learn; that right belongs to mom and dad.
Russia’s aggression in Crimea gave GOP talking heads yet another chance to blather on about how weak Barack Obama is and how America needs to bomb more countries in order to gain respect. Don’t listen to them.