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Friday, January 8th, 2016 10:23 pm
Okay, I've had enough of the mess in Oregon. It is such utter and absolute crap that I'm simply fed up with the BS and misdirection.

Here's a novel idea: let's look at some facts.

What's being alleged? Double jeopardy, 8th Amendment violations, and unconstitutional government overreach, among others.

What actually happened?

According to the official case records found at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-9th-circuit/1656649.html#sthash.i2a6YV4n.dpuf:

* Some of the land the Hammonds use is private, but some of it is public.

* The case background specifically mentions three fires (1999, 2001, 2006), resulting in somewhere over 140 acres of public land being burned (139 acres in 2001 + 1 acre in 2006, plus however many were damaged in 1999 and the other fires not detailed). It then goes on to say that "the government ultimately prosecuted the Hammonds on charges related to these and other fires," meaning there had been more than just those three.

* They claimed the 2001 fire was to burn off invasive species on their property, but a teenage relative testified that Stephen Hammond told him to drop lit matches on the ground so as to "light up the whole country on fire."

* The 2006 fire was an attempt to set a back-burn against fires that had been started by a lightning storm. This was in spite of the fact that a burn ban was in effect, and Hammond didn't even try to get a waiver.

* The charges for which the Hammonds were convicted carried a minimum 5-year sentence. Out of concern for possible 8th Amendment violations, the judge assigned lesser sentences: 3 months for Dwight Hammond and a total of 12 months and one day for Stephen Hammond.

* The government appealed the ruling, and the higher court found that it was illegal for the district court to assign less than the statutory minimum.

The Hammonds appealed this ruling to the US Supreme Court, and were denied.

This brings us to today, where we have armed protesters that have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, OR.

These protesters are led by a man named Ammon Bundy. But according to statements from the Hammond family attorney, Alan Schroeder, "Neither Ammon Bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speak for the Hammond family."

So why are Bundy and his followers there, and what are they claiming?

Here's a link to an interview with their spokesman Ammon Bundy, so you can hear him for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pABzujfzZws

I'm no fan of Fox News, but I use their interview with Bundy to forestall any claims of liberal media bias. Say what you will about Fox News, they're definitely NOT liberal.

Based on this and other interviews Bundy has given, he seems to be protesting over-reach by the federal government.

At 3:09 in the video, Bundy talks about the US Constitution being the supreme law of the land, preventing the federal government from "coming down into the states and controlling their land and resources." He specifically mentions Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution. Here is that clause:

"To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html)"

This sounds good, and even makes Bundy sound to some people like an informed citizen showing everyone how the federal government has overstepped it's Constitutional authority. Unfortunately, Mr. Bundy has failed to look closely enough at his source material, and is relying on that same mental laziness from his listeners.

The problem is that Article 1 talks about the Legislative branch of government. The first clause of Article 1 Section 8 even specifically states that it is talking about Congress. Unfortunately for Mr. Bundy, this has no relevance here. The land in question is under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, which is a part of the Department of the Interior -- a portion of the Executive branch, not the Legislative.

At 3:30, the interviewer mentions that the Hammonds had their day in court, that it went all the way up to the US Supreme Court, and the Hammonds lost. Suddenly Mr. Bundy is no longer interested in the what the supreme law of the land has to say -- for instance, that Article 3 of the Constitution defines the US Supreme Court is the final arbiter of all legal matters, whose "judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority."

Instead he points out that the plaintiff and the prosecutor were both "the federal government." While technically true, it is also not relevant, as these two roles belonged to completely separate branches of government. Anyone who thinks the US Supreme Court always rules in favor of the federal government, or even of the Executive branch, is invited to review that Court's record for themselves. As a simple example, I will point out that there have been 13 cases since 2012 alone where the Court has ruled UNANIMOUSLY against the Obama administration. That's just in the last 3 years, and it's not counting the rulings with split decisions.

We've shown that Bundy and his associates do not speak for the Hammond family, according to the Hammonds' own legal counsel. We've shown that there has been no double jeopardy, only an appeal of sentencing from the prosecution. We've shown that the Constitutional claims for their actions are not in fact based upon the Constitution at all. In fact, we've shown that Bundy would rather engage in ad-hominem attacks than admit that the Hammonds have already had their day in court and lost.

In short, Bundy and his associates have no legal justification for their actions. They have themselves committed several crimes in the course of these events. They have been asked to leave by the local law enforcement and have refused to do so. They have therefore shown themselves to be nothing but thugs and scofflaws who feel that the fact that they own firearms grants them the right to go where ever they please and do whatever they want.

Go home, Bundy, and take your pals with you. Be thankful you're not already rotting in a dark cell somewhere.

And for the record? I'm more than willing to discuss this with anyone who doesn't agree. But I do ask that you support your positions. If you can't or won't do that, kindly keep them to yourself.
Saturday, January 9th, 2016 02:24 pm (UTC)
i can't say i begin to understand exactly what their reasons or rationales are (or, i have to admit, particularly care). The (one) article I saw this mentioned it in the papers i read was basically a comment piece about how a group of armed white men have taken over a federal building... and if they were armed black men, or armed muslims, it would have a) been labelled terrorism, and b) escalated to a full-out armed siege on both sides by now, if not been over long ago with high body count. I have to add that there'd have been a hell of a lot more attention internationally if they hadn't been white, too.

I find that idea a lot more interesting than whatever the particular bee up their asses is... From my perspective (where we usually only see the really bad news stories about these kinds of things), it doesn't seem an unreasonable comment. I'm curious about what the american perspective on the idea that if they weren't white they'd have been called terrorists is, though. (Don't feel obliged to answer if you don't want to go near that mess! I wouldn't blame you :)
Saturday, January 9th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for an actual summation of this assorted madness!