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Pierce writes: "In these times, everything looks like an ill omen. The capitol is crowded with crows. But it is not an exaggeration to say that if you're not following the ongoing insanity in Oregon, you are missing a look into a very dark future."

A militia member in Oregon. (photo: AP)
A militia member in Oregon. (photo: AP)


The Insanity in Oregon Is a Glimpse of Our Very Dark Future

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

25 June 19


People with guns have involved themselves in a legislative dispute while the officials of one political party cheer them on.

n these times, everything looks like an ill omen. The capitol is crowded with crows. But it is not an exaggeration to say that if you're not following the ongoing insanity in Oregon, you are missing a look into a very dark future. It begins with a not-at-all-unusual squabble between the Republicans in the Oregon legislature and the Democratic Governor, Kate Brown. At issue is a huge bill aimed at dealing with the climate crisis. On Thursday, every Republican member of the Oregon state senate took a powder, denying Brown and the Democrats a quorum and effectively killing the bill.

Now this is not an unusual tactic. Not long ago, Democratic lawmakers in Texas and in Wisconsin blew town for the same purpose—to throw sand in the gears of a legislative act of which they did not approve and could not stop by conventional means. In Wisconsin, it was to slow down an anti-union measure. In Texas, it was about a redistricting map that gerrymandered the Texas legislature into a farce. The legislative lamsters all had a good time, taking goofy videos in what appeared to be Holiday Inn lobbies while Republicans back home fumed. (The Texans, it should be noted, won a temporary victory.) What makes Oregon different is what the fugitive Republican senators did.

The Republican senators—with the full support of the Oregon Republican Party—made common cause with armed domestic terror groups. (Calling them a militia is a misnomer, regardless of what they may think of themselves.) When a Republican state senator named Brian Boquist heard that Brown was sending the Oregon state police after them, he told a local television station:

Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.

Almost immediately, the local domestic terror groups sprang to Boquist's defense. From ThinkProgress:

A member of the Oregon 3 Percenters — a militia group whose members have vowed to combat what they perceive as constitutional infringement — said they would act as the senators’ de-facto bodyguards against the state police. “We have vowed to provide security, transportation and refuge for those Senators in need,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “We will stand together with unwavering resolve, doing whatever it takes to keep these Senators safe.”

In Idaho, where some of the lawmakers have supposedly fled, the state’s 3 Percenters group was similarly willing to defend the Republicans as well, posting threatening memes on its Facebook page. “This is what the start of a civil war looks like,” the group wrote in one post. “Elected officials seeking asylum in a friendly jurisdiction.” Speaking to ThinkProgress, Eric Parker, president of the group Real 3 Percenters Idaho, said the group was currently networking to figure out if Brown had asked for any “out of state resources” — such as help from the FBI or Idaho State Patrol — and were willing to assist the the Republican senators in any way necessary.

And you could find a way to wave this off as well, except for what happened on Saturday. From the Oregonian/OregonLive:

A spokeswoman for the Senate President confirmed late Friday that the "Oregon State Police has recommended that the Capitol be closed tomorrow due to a possible militia threat."

An "Occupy The Senate" rally on Sunday, sponsored by the local and state GOP, seems to have fizzled. (Jason Wilson on the electric Twitter machine is your go-to on this, and he has pictures, including one of a chainsaw the size of a Saturn V.) That doesn't calm me down at all. There has been a wildness in the land for a while now and, at this moment, at the top of the government, we have a president* who's more than willing to give that wildness a purpose and a focus.

People with guns have involved themselves in a legislative dispute while the officials of one of the political parties was rooting them on, and one session of a state legislature was cancelled because of it. Roll that around in your head for a while and see where you end up. Something is building in our politics and now I wish I hadn't watched that series about Chernobyl. We may be exceeding the tolerances of all our systems.

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+65 # DongiC 2019-06-25 15:00
In the far West, the militia groups are forming and singing "Trump uber alles." They wear baseball type hats with letters MAGA inscribed upon them. They are heavily armed and love to scowl. I don't think they mean well for the Republic since they may well be the storm troopers in Trump's base - a 21st century praetorian guard.

If Trump is defeated by the Progressives in 20/20 will we hear from these people again? I sincerely hope not but then. . . .
 
 
+15 # economagic 2019-06-26 07:38
African-America ns were banned from Oregon under its constitution until about 1970, and many of the people in the two thirds of the state east of the Cascades (and some farther to the west) still think and conduct themselves as if they were still in the the Wild (and lawless) West of the mid-19th century. (Oregon was admitted to the Union in 1859). Like California and a couple of other states, Oregon consists of two very different cultural blocs, separated geographically.
 
 
+70 # 1dfnslblty 2019-06-25 15:32
“... armed domestic terror groups. (Calling them a militia is a misnomer, regardless of what they may think of themselves. ....”

Great writing - don’t stop reporting violence, aggression and insanity!

OR officials are not seeking "asylum” out of the state - dereliction of duty is correct here, and no pay.

As for the terrorism - treat them as such...
 
 
-44 # lorenbliss 2019-06-25 15:52
Mr. Pierce needs to be reminded a great many "people with guns" -- contrary to the forcible disarmament propaganda -- are socialists or progressives.

He also needs to be reminded of the Deacons for Defense, and of the fact firearms ownership is neither criminal nor -- contrary to the forcible disarmament fanatics' claims -- does ownership of firearms irremediably define one as a ChristoNazi or some other subspecies of fascist.

That said, his implicit prediction of looming civil war is undoubtedly accurate. All empires fragment as they die. Nearly half a century ago Raymond Gastil ("Cultural Regions of the United States," University of Washingto0n Press: 1975), described the continental United States as containing 12 distinct regional cultures. (The Hawaiian Islands makes 13.)

Thus the real question -- again looking at histories of imperial collapse (and factoring in our obvious national suicide) -- is how many separate states will emerge as the empire dies?

I'd say five: the neo-Confederacy , a 39-state ChristoNazi Reich -- its white majority united by bigotry at least as murderous as Nazi Germany's; the republics of Hawaii and Alaska; Pacifica, formed from the coastal, west-of-the Cascades portions of Washington, Oregon and Northern California; New England: Connecticut, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire and the coastal, non-ChristoNazi parts of New York.
 
 
+1 # DongiC 2019-06-26 01:50
Quite insightful. I read your comment several times, lorenbliss, and I only came up with four regions. Southern CA seems to be missing. Otherwise nice comment.
 
 
+1 # margefromtn 2019-06-26 14:37
five... 1, the neoconfederacy, 2. Hawaii, 3. Alaska, 4. Pacifica and 5. New England... to include the appropriate parts of NY. time to move back up north. Either to Washington or back to New England. this article is truly chilling... one of those "it can't happen here" fantasies.
 
 
+10 # economagic 2019-06-26 07:50
Jared Diamond's latest book is about the stubborn denial of obvious and serious realities by a large majority of the US population. The first three paragraphs of the comment by lorenbliss are fact, not opinion. You people giving him red thumbs because you would prefer that they were not fact probably ought to read Diamond's book.

That said, the future is unknown and unknowable (one of the few things my econometrics professor said that I understood). We MAY (or may not) still be able to avert civil war, just as we ma or may not be able to avert runaway climate disruption. Diamond's point is that we cannot solve problems the existence of which we deny out of fear or cognitive laziness.
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-26 08:28
lb -- I don't see any reason for your negative votes. You make good points. The US was put together as a result of imperial conquest. Such empires do eventually fall apart. This happened to Russia and there is still a great deal of bitterness toward Russia from places like Ukraine, Georgia, and many others. Probably something similar is in the future of the US.

It is interesting to think about the groupings that might break away from the central regime in Washingotn. I'd probably differ from the 5 groupings you note.

And your first point is good. Lots of socialists and progressives are gun owners.
 
 
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-06-26 08:33
It is strange how Oregon has changed. It was originally a white supremacist enclave. It was where radical racists and militants went to get away from other states where some pluralism was allowed to exist.

But in the 1960s, hippies and liberals moved into Oregon and set up there shops there. Oregon became one of the most liberal states in the US. But the older right-wing faction still exists.

This is just one batter between these two factions. The future does seem dark. I don't see either side giving in. The law in question here is rather minor, but the clash of power is not.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2019-06-26 11:45
To the best of my knowledge the divide at the Cascades has been there for many years. But the disingenuous and insulting phrase, "hippies and liberals," is a favorite of the extreme right which you should be ashamed to use. I thought it was a direct quote from Lewis Powell's infamous "Memo," but all that I turned up in a very cursory scan was "Communists, New Leftists and other revolutionaries."

But I doubt that is the whole reason for the red thumbs: The fact that Oregon was indeed for a century a "white supremacist enclave" (which the eastern two thirds largely still is) is unbearable for many people who wish it were otherwise to admit.
 
 
+31 # Texas Aggie 2019-06-26 09:04
Your false equivalence is showing. The progressives with firearms are not organized in groups that train in the woods and threaten to shoot people. That is the difference between a dog lying on the porch watching passersby and a pack of feral dogs out killing someone's livestock. They both have teeth, but you don't worry about the former while the latter is a distinct threat.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2019-06-26 11:49
I'm fairly certain that Loren's point was that if the Right Wing nuts push their violence too far and actually shoot someone, there are enough armed hotheads on the left (I know some) who might find it difficult to think too much before shooting back.
 
 
+2 # AZerbst 2019-06-26 12:46
Hey, where's Massachusetts? [New England, I assume . . . but it would be nice to see it listed.]
 
 
+1 # OrlandoDFree 2019-06-28 20:30
I really don't think he needs to be reminded of those things. Nothing in his piece challenges those two points. The rest of your piece was interesting.
 
 
+1 # OrlandoDFree 2019-06-28 20:32
As much as I dislike what Oregon's elected Republicans are doing, I must give them credit for disavowing any help from the armed militias. However, I hope they see the militia's actions as a clue that their own tactics are taking their state (and this country) in the wrong direction.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fleeing-oregon-senators-state-police-and-the-militia-stand_n_5d125693e4b0a3941869631e
 
 
+2 # kyzipster 2019-06-29 14:20
That's good to know, that they rejected the militias. It would be good to know how many of these militias exist, or their numbers. A few hundred paranoid people removing themselves from society, hiding in the mountains? I've spent quite a bit of time in rural Oregon, they must be hidden. Very friendly state. Young people everywhere, enjoying the sensational environment. Stores for recreational marijuana right on the interstate.

Most Trump voters wouldn't last 24 hours on a compound, 100s of miles away from Golden Corral and their widescreens.

I'm not going to worry about armed hordes waging battle against the coastal cities just yet. Most of this civil war is playing out on social media. The onslaught of sensational headlines is much more frightening than reality probably.
 
 
0 # kyzipster 2019-06-29 00:12
Painting huge swaths of the population as cartoonish goons, don't think liberals aren't contributing to our tribal nature, at least as much as the deplorables.
 
 
+20 # jlarson 2019-06-26 00:14
All this ruckus over a CAP AND TRADE bill??--that'll barely nip at carbon emissions while the planet is frying, and people, with and without guns, are dying.
 
 
+2 # goodsensecynic 2019-06-26 06:17
What about Rhode Island?

I imagine it would be part of New England, but it's important to be inclusive.
 
 
+2 # economagic 2019-06-26 15:45
RR's list is incomplete. "Google" the original to find articles about it.
 
 
+1 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 19:52
I deliberately left Rhode Island off the New England list because its politics have become ambiguous. It's Democratic (sic) majority shrank substantially in 2016, with its significant shift to Trumpian ChristoNazism measured by the ChristoNazis' capture of 27 formerly Democratic (sic) legislative districts.

See:

https://ballotpedia.org/Republican_Party_primaries_in_Rhode_Island,_2018

also

https://ballotpedia.org/Presidential_election_in_Rhode_Island,_2016

and:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election_in_Rhode_Island

Thus -- given the evidence of radically increasing ChristoNazi support (and, yes, let's call the Republicans what they truly are) -- I would very tentatively list Rhode Island amongst the states of the New Confederacy -- particularly since it was the slave traders' primary port of entry, the gateway to everlasting horror through which our masters' ancestors herded their relentlessly tortured captives.
 
 
+10 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-06-26 07:54
USA 2019 = Germany 1934, with 1939 in close pursuit. & the Concentration camps are already here….
 
 
+3 # krazykwiltkatt 2019-06-27 21:04
I think we have already reached 1936 in our downward spiral into Fascism.
 
 
+15 # RMF 2019-06-26 08:44
lorenbliss...a little off point wouldn't you say?
Neither progressives nor Dems "with guns" as you put it are threatening any legislative bodies.
And you may find it informative to ask yourself who, among the US electorate, is lobbying for better gun regulation -- wow, that turns out to be the "gun toting" progressives and Dems as well. Sheesh!
 
 
0 # economagic 2019-06-26 15:42
I'm fairly certain that Loren's point was that if the Right Wing nuts push their violence too far and actually shoot someone, there are enough armed hotheads on the left (I know some) who might find it difficult to think too much before shooting back.
 
 
+15 # SusanT136 2019-06-26 10:31
I confess to being a bit puzzled why the author doesn’t mention the unusualness of the governor sending the state police after politicians? Especially since this is a technique, like it or not, that both Democrats and Republicans have used. Is it actually illegal for them to do what they are doing and if yes why has no action been taken on this in past instances?

I’m all for stopping their pay if they’re just skipping town. And maybe if they skip town for more than a certain number of days they should lose their job. Sending the sheriff after them seems like a frightening use of government power.

All that being said, the militias are really scary. They are just itching for a fight and they’re bringing some serious guns to the fight which they’re happy to use.
 
 
-9 # Questioner 2019-06-26 10:36
Were the State Police sent out to fetch back the missing Republicans armed? What level of force were they authorized to use to bring them back? Is a monopoly on arms by the State necessary for the Progressive agenda to work? What guarantee is there that the armed agents of the State will carry out the Progressive agenda and not split off in some different direction? If the people are all effectively disarmed what check is there on the armed agents of the state? As the empire fragments, who gets the arms and what do they do with them?
 
 
+1 # economagic 2019-06-26 15:57
"As the empire fragments, who gets the arms and what do they do with them?"

Lots of questions, most of which have no answers. This one is pretty strange. There are more firearms in private hands in the US than there are people, and they are owned by people in every walk of life and of every political persuasion. Note that I said POLITICAL persuasion, not moral stance. This situation is very like that of nuclear war but on a somewhat smaller scale. Once people other than the occasional head case (which is growing, for obvious reasons) start shooting, all bets are off. People could back away in horror, or a "civil" war could bring out the nukes.

Sane people do not want to go there, and we should all be working feverishly to defuse foolish such as this. It's hard to do, because the hotheads are their own worst enemy, and every time one of them crosses a not-so-clear line and gets killed s/he becomes a martyr and a "casus belli."
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 18:29
My bad – distracted by a phonecall -- far worse since some immediate relatives (late father, a late brother and a sister) come from Massachusetts.

With Mass. now included (and, in response to DongiC above), I just assumed Southern California would be happily absorbed by Arizona and Nevada as part of the Greater American ChristoNazi Reich.

As to a prime source of my belief the vast majority of USian whites are either ChristoNazis or sympathizers, check out the post-Katrina Pew Poll: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/08/27/remembering-katrina-wide-racial-divide-over-governments-response/

Fully 77 percent of the white population reflexively denied the genocidal racism that was indisputably the basis of the Bush Regime's decision to weaponize Katrina for ethnic cleansing.

In other words, 77 percent of white USians are racist pigs, and whenever such swine are gathered in a single sty, a characteristica lly Nazi stench invariably arises from the rotting flesh of all the Nazis' victims.

Such will be the "Mein Kampf" reality of the New Confederacy, a hideous truth already obvious in the skyrocketing incidence of Trumpian violence. Against which -- since the ChristoNazis have seized permanent control of the courts (and the police and military are themselves nearly 100 percent ChristoNazified ), we true humans have for defense only our privately owned firearms.
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 19:57
Alas, this comment ("my bad") was in response to goodsensecynic. The "hear hear" was in response to economagic.
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 20:18
CORRECTION: the above was in response to AZerbst, not goodsensecynic.

(Damnit, trying to do too many things at once and running into my gender's notorious inability at multitasking. Sorry, folks; occasionally I do fumble the ball. That's why even the best reporters are dependant on competent copy editors to catch inadvertent errors.)
 
 
0 # economagic 2019-06-26 20:49
Again, the future is unknown and unknowable, although outlines are often visible but also often wrong.

Diamond and Hedges are our Jeremiahs, but it occurs to me that most people in this country are taught at an early age that prophesy is forecasting the future, sort of like fortune telling. That is mostly wrong. It is absolutely about the present, observations of a culture in decline and examples of where the present course may lead. It is an extended way of saying "You/We had better get your/our shit together or there will be hell to pay." It is a call to come to our senses, which is often ignored but sometimes heeded. I prefer to march on into the storm and see what lies there, in full awareness that the very next step could land on a mine.
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 18:31
Hear, hear!
 
 
+3 # margpark 2019-06-26 14:50
In my peaceful neighborhood, most citizens have guns. I don't think many of them belong to a militia. They just desperately fear any stranger in the neighborhood. They cower in fear with their guns refusing to open the door to any stranger who knocks.
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-26 18:42
As far as I'm concerned, the most definitive observation on cultural geography I've ever heard spoken by any human was stated innumerable times by my late father: "Civilization ends 50 miles inland from the coast."
 
 
0 # economagic 2019-06-27 19:50
I'm skeptical about that, but there is an interesting comment apparently to that effect with regard to the Washington and Oregon coasts in the book, "Tomorrow," based on the movie of the same name and written by one of its producer-direct ors. I'll see if I can pin it down tomorrow.
 
 
0 # lorenbliss 2019-06-30 07:34
That was c. about 1949, the first time H heard my father say it; based on today's reality, in some places I'd extend that to maybe 100 miles, but in places where they've repudiated civilization -- say for example the former Confederacy -- it obviously has no application whatsoever.
 
 
+4 # OrlandoDFree 2019-06-28 14:42
To their credit, the rest of the Republicans chose to have nothing to do with the "militias." A Republican spokeswomen said "Senate Republicans do not condone the use of violence on state troopers. This is a peaceful protest…"
 

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