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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bomb Shelter

 

Narrator: What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

 

It’s been an interesting few weeks.

And by interesting, I mean like the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” interesting.

Like I fell into an episode of the Twilight Zone interesting. You know, that episode where the neighborhood goes insane and turns on each other in red-eyed panic when they think the world is about to end.

After writing about the standoff with armed militants in Oregon last week, I’ve gotten a near continuous stream of virulent hate mail and threats of violence – some veiled, some less so.

Now, I’d be lying if I said I was surprised.

I’ve been doing this for a long time and the one thing you can always count on is the immediate and rabid slobbering of fanatical haters when you ring their bell.  Especially if you ring it on purpose as I’m prone to do. But that’s where I like them, out in the open where I can see them, instead of skulking around in the shadows.

Many of these folks say similar things and have similar outlooks. What’s interesting to me is the source of this increasingly paranoid mindset since it’s fairly obvious they all have something in common, at least tangentially.

For example, a guy named John Pennington posted the following comment to the Refuge of Scoundrels essay:

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On one hand, I have to give him props for “coprophagenous liberal dogs” (even if the word should really be “coprophagous”).

On the other hand, apparently the irony of disputing the essay’s basic assertion by threatening to add my body to a pile of dead Americans used as sandbags completely escaped Mr. Pennington.

Not content to leave a comment filled with threats of violence on the Refuge of Scoundrels essay, Pennington then began sending me emails. I shined him on a bit, just to see where it would go. He didn’t disappoint.

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A charming fellow, John Pennington.

It turns out he’s damned near a clich√©, a doughy over-the-hill angry conservative white man who hates Obama and liberals and gays and Muslims and, most of all, the government – all while living on government disability.

He’s a member of Mesa County Patriots, a rabidly anti-government militia of the usual stripe, Birthers, 911 Truthers, gun nuts, and government haters, and you can certainly see why he thinks the louts, drunks, fakers, and criminals occupying the Malheur Wildlife Refuge are just the best thing since John Hancock told King George to go fuck himself.

After I flagged his email address, Pennington sent me one more message and couldn’t resist that little veiled threat at the end.

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We’ll see. Eventually.

Yes, indeed, I suppose we will.

Now, this is pretty mild compared to some of what I get. So why bring it up? Why this particular example?

Well, first because he gave me permission to do so, but mostly because two years ago John Pennington was running for Mesa County Sheriff.

Allow me a digression: Imagine that. Imagine this guy as your sheriff. Imagine your sheriff being the guy who goes home at night and sends emails to people on the internet like those above. Worthless human scat. Enjoys turning shit like you into “breathing space.” Somebody will cover you up eventually. Fuck you. We’ll see. Stack your body with the other filth to absorb the bullets. There will come a day of reckoning.

Generally, it’s the sheriff’s job to protect you from goons like John Pennington.

Try to imagine Sheriff John Pennington, a man who regards his own country as the enemy, a man who is a member of a seditious organization whose sworn goal is violent overthrow of the US Government, try to imagine calling that guy when armed militants take over your town. Try to imagine him stopping your daughter on a dark lonely road…

Fortunately for the folks of Mesa County, Pennington lost the election.

But here’s the point, here’s the real question: how do you become that guy?

How do you become a guy who talks about shooting down your neighbors? How do you become a guy who dreams about shooting down the democratically elected government you were once, supposedly sworn to defend and obey? How do you become the guy who talks about taking up arms against your own people, your own country?

 

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How does a guy who claims he was once a Marine, and not just a Marine but an elite Scout Sniper, pledged to protect Americans with his very life, go from Devil Dog to ranting about shooting down those very same Americans and stacking their bodies like sandbags? Assuming he really was a Marine in the first place, that is (look, I’ll do him the courtesy of taking him at his word but let’s be honest here, a lot of these militia types falsely claim to be Scout Snipers and SEALs and Chair Borne Rangers and they cover themselves in enough stolen valor to give a Third World dictator a run for his money. So please, pardon my slightly raised eyebrow of skepticism here. You lay down with camels, you get bitten by camel spiders).

How do you get from being a Marine, an elite warrior who places honor, duty, discipline, and loyalty above all, to throwing in with wife beaters and drunks and thugs and stolen valor? How is that possible?

How do you get from Semper Fidelis to sedition and outright hatred of the citizens you once served?

The simple truth of the matter is if John Pennington was a Muslim and he talked like this, he’d already be in custody.

 

So how does it happen?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Pennington’s election Facebook page, Pennington for Mesa County Sheriff, is still up, and the last entry dated October 10, 2014 is the reason I chose this particular example:

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Wake up, you fools!

They’re here, in America!

They’ve slipped through our borders and they’re colluding with “un-loyal” Americans – got that? Un-loyal Americans and who might those people be? Why, people like me, of course. I don’t have to guess, Pennington told me so. You and me, we’re “human scat.”

Be careful who you have as a friend! You can’t even trust your family. Why, anybody could be one of them! Anybody!

Take what corrective action you deem necessary to protect your family.

Go armed everywhere, you fool! Everywhere!

In their minds, it’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets the Twilight Zone narrated by Tailgunner Joe.

As I said in Refuge of Scoundrels, these people, they aren’t arming themselves to defend America from some foreign invader. Not really. They’re arming themselves to shoot down you and me.

“...until such time as your body is needed, that we may stack it atop the other filth here in order to absorb bullets and fragment. There will come a reckoning...

We are the enemy they fear most of all.

 

Man: Why don't we get some kind of battering ram?
Frank Henderson: Yeah, we could go over to Bennett Avenue, Phil Cline has some heavy pipe in his basement, I've seen it.
Man: No, no, that would bring him into the act too, and who cares about saving him? No, if we do that, we'll let all those people know we have a shelter on our street. We'll have a whole mob to contend with, with a whole bunch of strangers.
Mrs. Henderson: Sure, and what right have they got to come over here? This isn't their street, this isn't their shelter.
Jerry Harlowe: Ohhhh, this is our shelter, and on the next street that's another country. Patronize home industries, you idiots, you fools, you're insane, all of you.

 

But where does it begin? How does this start? How do you reach a point where you see your neighbors as the enemy? And everything as a conspiracy?

In the Facebook post above, Mike Albear says he got a “message from a very good active source that was confirmed on Fox News.”

Ah, yes. The source.

Wayne Simmons.

I thought this paranoia smelled familiar.

Wayne Shelby Simmons. Former CIA operative with 27 years of experience in covert operations all over the world. Intelligence expert. Defense Contractor. Author – hell, Donald Rumsfeld even endorsed Simmons’ novel about a retired CIA agent called back for yet another clandestine operation saying “Simmons doesn’t just write it, he’s lived it!” Pentagon consultant via the Military Analysts Program. And finally and most importantly, Fox News consultant who made more than a hundred appearances on various shows as an authority on everything from foreign policy to counter-terrorism.

Simmons claims to have "spearheaded deep-cover intel ops against some of the world's most dangerous drug cartels and arms smugglers.”

He retired from the CIA in 2000 and became a consultant for Fox News. He was a hawk who became a regular face at various roundtables and panels on terrorism and war, a favorite of the Pentagon’s Public Affairs Office who in 2004 was trying desperately to rally support for the floundering war effort in Iraq.

He was a Fox News darling. The perfect anti-liberal, a distinguished tough-talking no-shit expert with a handshake that could crush rocks. You couldn’t argue with him, because he’d been there and done that – or in CIA vernacular, he was never there and that never happened. Wink wink. Wayne Simmons was the guy, the real deal, a man with the grit and the expertise and the experience to take on the generals who were telling Donald Rumsfeld he was wrong. Simmons in his own grizzled words “wanted to slap” those generals, and he did, verbally, over and over, backing up Rumsfeld again and again – which might explain why the Secretary of Defense himself was enthusiastically willing to blurb a fiction novel.

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That’s Simmons on the left, standing next to Donald Rumsfeld in the Secretary of Defense’s Office at  the Pentagon.

Simmons was so trusted and so influential in 2006 the White House invited him to be present in the Oval Office when George W. Bush signed the Military Commissions Act – which among other things granted the Executive unlimited power to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely at Gitmo, something Simmons had been loudly demanding on Fox News. The Pentagon listed him as one of its "most prolific retired military analysts" and given his experience they wanted him in Iraq as an expert military consultant advising commanders and the troops.

He became a regular on the Republican speaking circuit and landed himself a lucrative book deal.

And so, naturally I suppose, it’s unsurprising Simmons eventually became a member of the “Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi,” (CCB), a group of experts formed by a media watchdog group called Accuracy In Media to independently investigate the events surrounding the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed Ambassador Stevens and three employees of the US State Department. Simmons and the CCB produced a widely circulated report extremely critical of the Administration and laying the blame for Benghazi squarely at the feet of Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile back on Fox News Simmons made no bones about his politics. On the air he called President Obama a "boy king" and Nancy Pelosi a "pathological liar” and his words were repeated verbatim by Republican politicians and conservatives on the street and by this point Simmons was essentially narrating the conservative consciousness.

And then in a 2014 appearance on Neil Cavuto’s Fox News show, Simmons declared with total assurance there were "at least nineteen paramilitary Muslim training facilities in the United States." Cavuto nodded his head in agreement and responded “wow!” Simmons’ declaration, at least nineteen known Muslim paramilitary facilities training terrorists right here in America, went unchallenged because this was Wayne Simmons after all – one of the nation’s most respected experts.

Simmons looked at Cavuto with his distinguished icy stare, and said, "They're using paramilitary exercises to plan and execute these types of operations all over the United States. And when it happens, it will just be you and I saying, 'We told you so.'"

Wow indeed.

And there it is. The source.

Oh others had made similar statements, but Simmons on Fox News is what gave the hidden terror legitimacy. And it confirmed the worst fears of those militiamen up above. They’re here. They are right here among us. They are training to kill us all. They could be anybody. They could be anywhere. Your friends, your family, next door, the next block,  the bank manager, the grocery store cashier. Trust no one. Arm yourself. Take action. It’s the only way to be sure.

And how could you argue?

If there’s anybody who knows about the Islamic State, it’s Wayne Simmons.

 

Except...

 

Except there’s just one problem.

It’s all – all of it, every single word – it’s all complete and utter bullshit.

Wayne Shelby Simmons is a fraud.

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Simmons never worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Simmons was never a spook, he was never a secret agent, he was never an analyst, he was never an operator.

In actuality, he really was never there and it really did never happen.

He’s not an expert on military intelligence. He’s not an expert on terrorism. He’s not an expert on anything.

What he is, in point of fact, is a bullshit artist of extraordinary hubris.

Wayne Simmons is nothing but a conman.

Everything about this guy is a lie.

Which makes his assertion calling Nancy Pelosi a “pathological liar” doubly ironic, don’t you think?

Behind Simmons is a 30 year long trail of wreckage and failure. He ran a limousine service, a gambling operation, an AIDS-testing clinic, and tried to start a commuter airline – all of which failed. He sold hot-tubs and carpeting and very briefly had a contract to play defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. He’s got a criminal record for multiple DUIs, illegal weapon possession, and assault. In 2007 he was arrested for attacking a Pakistani cabdriver in Annapolis, Maryland, and tried to bullshit his way out of it by claiming he was a CIA operative and the cabbie was a Muslim terrorist. The police called the CIA. The CIA told the police to arrest him. Somewhere along the line, Simmons started believing in his own bullshit. He got a job with defense contractor BAE Systems as a "Human Terrain System team leader." But he was forced to resign when it became apparent he had no idea what he was doing. A year later he applied for a job with the State Department, but was rejected when GSA Human Resources looked into his background and realized he was a complete fraud. Simmons is nothing if not persistent in his duplicity. In 2010 he got hired on as a Senior Intelligence Advisor with another defense contractor and was sent to Afghanistan to advise military commanders. Fortunately, he failed his background check and his interim security clearance was revoked and he was sent home before he could get any more Americans killed.

Simmons was arrested last October and charged with multiple counts of fraud. He’s been charged with not only lying about his fraudulent CIA past to gain employment and audiences with Rumsfeld and Bush, but he’s also charged with running a real-estate scam that bilked $125,000 from a woman he was romantically involved with.

He’s currently under house arrest with his daughter as his court-appointed guardian. Even if he could go outside, he’d have to take a cab because his car was repossessed and his house is next given that he’s a deadbeat who hasn’t made a mortgage payment in going on five years.

His trial begins on the 23rd of this month and if he’s found guilty he’s going to spend a number of years in prison.

Oh, and that Citizens Commission on Benghazi? Well, that was more like a commission of Birthers, 911 Truthers, Kooks, and Conspiracy Theorists. The report they produced, the one quoted endlessly on Fox News, was nothing but a list of long debunked and provably wrong falsehoods – though it did make Michael Bay’s job easier. And that watchdog group? Accuracy in Media? Well as it turns out, “accuracy” in that context means “needs more frauds like Wayne Simmons to tell us what we want to hear.” AIM is really a partisan outfit with a conservative political goal.

It’s not just Simmons.

It’s the media who didn’t bother to vet his nonsense before making him a public figure.

It’s Rumsfeld and the Pentagon Public Affairs office who let this go on even though they knew Simmons was a fraud because it furthered  their  own agendas.

And most of all, it’s the public who ate it up without question because he told them what they wanted to hear. Guys like John  Pennington and his friends in their little militia clutching their guns and their bibles waiting for the end, those paranoids out there in Oregon? These people have been had. Not by government, not by Muslim terrorists, not by liberals, not by their neighbors, not even by con-artists such as Wayne Simmons, but by their own small fears.

Jerry Harlowe: Hey that's a great idea, block party, anything to get back to normal, huh?
Dr. Bill Stockton: Normal? I don't know. I don't know what normal is. I thought I did once. I don't anymore.
Jerry Harlowe: I told you we'd pay for the damages, Bill.
Dr. Bill Stockton: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we're really like when we're normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on staying alive that they'd claw their neighbors to death just for the privilege. We were spared a bomb tonight, but I wonder if we weren't destroyed even without it.

And what happens when these people, these lunatic paranoids, finally work up the courage to begin their revolution of false patriots and fake marines? When they finally do take up arms against their own countrymen and come to batter down our doors? What happens after they shoot us down? Or die trying? And stack our bodies like sandbags against the bullets which exist only in their minds?

What happens after they give in to fear and panic and the endless black terror which gnaws at their withered souls?

What then?

When it’s over, when the howling mob is finally sated ... and they look up from the wreckage like those in Oregon are doing even now and find that it was all a false alarm?

What happens when they discover their entire worldview is based on a fraud?

What then?

Will they have the courage to face it?

Or will they turn away in denial and cowardice?

I wonder.

 

Narrator: No moral. No message. No prophetic tract. Just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.
- The Twilight Zone, Season 3, Episode 3: The Shelter, 1961

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Correction: I originally said Mesa County was in Arizona.  It’s not, it’s Colorado. That’s what happens when you spend all night on militia websites reading about  “Al Qaeda” training camps in Arizona.  It’s fixed.  // Jim

157 comments:

  1. Typo Espeically

    Unless it refers to a specious argument or an electronic species in which case carry on

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    1. Fixed. There were actually two typos in that sentence, I saw one and missed the other.

      Not by choice, I'm using some new publishing software - which does not as yet have an enabled grammar or spell checker, and I've gotten used to such tools to the point where I keep forgetting to paste the text into Word and check it for errors first. Bah.

      Thanks for the assist. // Jim

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    2. Thank you. you are both eloquent and fun to read. I always look forward to your essays.

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    3. Thank you. Stonekettle Station is both eloquent and fun. I always look forward to reading them.

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    4. Damn, almost thought I had a compliment for nothing at all.
      I take what I can get

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  2. That's an outstanding essay. Thanks.

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  3. "I received a message from a very good active source that was confirmed on Fox News"

    Well, THAT makes it gospel then.

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  4. I think the answer is clear. Denial and cowardice is their primary mode of operation. They'll just invent something else to be afraid of.

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    1. Purpose? Well, for one thing I feel better knowing that these people aren't inherently evil and full of hatred for their fellow man, they've been brainwashed!

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    2. It doesn't make me feel a damn bit better to think that an evil act was performed ignorantly, or with "good intentions."

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  6. Excellent once again, Jim. I always knew I felt a kinship to Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, now I know why. I'm human scat! Awesome! I can live w/ that if being a fan of your writings, you and a sharer of your ideals makes me such.
    Howdy Ho!

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  7. They will never admit they are wrong. They will proclaim it a conspiracy to bury "the truth" and loudly decry anyone who goes against their delusional belief that they are brave, righteous, under siege, and solely possessed of the understanding of the situation. Anyone who disagrees will be labeled ignorant "sheep." This kind of paranoia is a worm ouroboros; these folks are stuffed full of their own tail/tales and cannot swallow anything else.

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  8. The teacher I respected most in high school (I graduated in 1968) has now gone fully over to the THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE MY GUNS freak-o-rama. I keep trying to get him to check facts. I keep asking him to show me how he knows.

    Last exchange of messages had him saying he didn't know why I was picking on him because he never picked on me in school and saying "I don't need proof."

    What kind of poison destroys people's minds this way?

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    1. Fear, basically. Really, fear and self-justification of same through external sources. The entire armed-and-crazy right wing right now is run on pure paranoia.

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    2. I think some of it is retirement, honestly. I have so many older family members who used to be intelligent people, who only became shit-flinging conspiracy monkeys after they retired and decided to keep FOX News running 24-7 on TV.
      It honestly reminds me of the grandmother in "Requiem for a Dream," where they lose the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and the TV provides them a fix they think they need.
      And of course, FOX and the like, by playing so heavily on emotion and confirmation bias, feed that addiction perfectly, until a person's critical thinking skills, and cognitive functions, are annihilated

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    3. I think you're both right, & it not only makes me glad that I'm liberal as I get closer to retirement, but that I also don't spend much time watching TV. Even if I did. psychotic garbage like Faux News simply isn't allowed in my house.

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    4. I don't think it has anything to do with age per we, there are people of all ages that think and behave like this. My 70 year old husband and my 62 year old self are both retired and we are capable of separating fact from fiction. I think fear is the key factor, fear of the "other", fear of change, fear of the unknown, but mostly fear from their inability to control. Just my opinion for what it is worth. Thanks

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    5. protracted syphilis would be my guess...

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  9. Brilliant, as always. I wonder if your logic, and your call for a return to rationality can even be grasped by these people? I hope so. Otherwise I fear for the nation.

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    1. I have feared for our nation since St Ronnie was elected; amend that, since he ran against Ford for the '76 election.

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  10. "And most of all, it’s the public who ate it up without question because he told them what they wanted to hear. "

    Affirmation, the Information Ages' great gift to us all.

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    1. When some of us go through life as a minority-of-one in our circle (family or whatever), it's a huge stress-reliever to find that on the larger stage we are NOT alone.

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  11. Fantastic blog. While you were writing about Simmons' cred, I could sense the "Wait for it...wait for it..." moment just around the bend. He didn't disappoint. And you never do. Thank you.

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  12. Excellent! I had heard a bit about Simmons, but didn't know as much as you reported here. People like that cause so much more harm than even they can know - and it will be many years before it can be cleaned up.

    One thing: 5th paragraph after the "go fuck yourself stone kettle" image: "Allow me a digression: Imagine that. Image this guy as your sheriff. Imagine your sheriff being the guy ..." I'm guessing that "Image this guy as your sheriff" was meant to be "Imagine this guy as your sheriff."

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  13. Damn. You have definitely secured a spot as one of my go-to commentators. Excellent article!

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  14. Wonderful as always Jim.

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  15. I voted for the woman in the sheriff's election, let me tell you there are a lot crazy gun toting people in my county. Thanks for the great essay. Shared on Mesa county patriots Facebook page :)

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    1. Oh good, more death threats. Can't wait.

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    2. It turns out I've been blocked from their so you are doubt safe.

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  16. Outstanding piece, thank you for a great thought provoking read.

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  17. Outstanding as usual, Mr. Wright!

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  18. I don't see any rebuttals from John Pennington anywhere around. *sniff sniffing for the scent of fear sweat and soiled adult diapers...*

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  19. Marvelous essay, Jim. These whackos worry me when I realize how many there are and just how delusional they are.

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  20. Thank you. Excellent piece. Please stay safe!

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  21. Left journalist Amy Goodman: "Democrats and Republicans are expected to spend about $1 billion getting their 2016 nominee elected. There’s a third group that will spend almost as much. It’s not a political party, and it doesn’t have any candidates. It’s the right-wing political network backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, expected to spend nearly $900 million in 2016. The Kochs’ 2016 plans come as part of an effort to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative candidates and causes over the last four decades." (http://www.democracynow.org/2016/1/20/dark_money_jane_mayer_on_how)

    A for-real well-documented secret conspiracy, only now coming to light as it comes near to power. (And I want to read Mayer's book, Dark Money, when I can.)

    "Deceiving us has become an industrial process." If you have Fox News and most of AM talk radio broadcasting this stuff, over and over, well, there will be enough people who believe to act on it.

    I too wonder what these people will think when they discover they've been conned. There will probably be plenty of them who will still believe regardless.

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    1. It's been shown that when people are confronted with evidence that they've been fooled will, rather than change their stance, reject the evidence and become even more sure of the prior belief.

      I've often wondered what the world would do with the people of North Korea and or when their government collapses. Now we have to wonder about the Fox "News" true believers.

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    2. We have something of a natural experiment in the fall of the old Soviet Union. I don't know enough about it, really, but my impression is that some still believed, some never did, and some believed in capitalism for a while, until it became apparent that we didn't understand capitalism, either, and Russian became an early casualty of the lawless capitalism we had come to believe in.

      Now…my impression is one of people desperately seeking for anything to hang on to, while radical reformers (Pussy Riot!) try to make sense of the situation. I suppose, really, that is not that different from our situation, though we have not completely destroyed our institutions.

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    3. I suspect that there would be a large number of suicides, amongst both groups mentioned.

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    4. And indeed there is. Suicide in Russia is very high, especially among young adults.

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    5. Amy Goodman is an idiot Glenn Greenwald fellow traveler who is also among those who fail to fact check/vet their guests. She believes Greenwald to be a liberal (and therefore accepts his anti-Democrat screeds without question) even though he has spent his entire blogging career backing militia sponsor, Ron Paul (with whom he is currently touring college campuses): http://www.yaliberty.org/posts/yalcon14-videos-ron-paul-glenn-greenwald-rand-paul

      Ron Paul, meanwhile, is starring in a militia "dockumnetary" stuffed to the gills with white supremacists: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/ron-paul-stars-oath-keepers-militia-film-anti-semitic-filmmaker

      Greenwald would have us believe that Ron Paul, and his idiot son, are people that progressives should get behind even though the Pauls (along with Glenn Beck and the rest of the right-wing echo chamber) happen to be the ones feeding conspiracy theories to the militia loons, egging them on: http://www.irehr.org/2014/04/17/bundy-standoff/

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  22. Magnificent piece Jim. Investigative reporting and character analysis about one John Pennington, and one Wayne Simmons, residents from the Twilight Zone.

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  23. Excellent report, well told. thanks !

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  24. As usual, an impressive piece of facts, "fictions" and snarky justice. Thanks for a good read.

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  25. "How do you become that guy?"

    That recipe starts with a broken educational system with textbooks that still list the USSR. You can't expect a child to learn about a culture when their history books aren't even recent enough to know the culture exists. Add a liberal dash of childhood poverty and everything we now know it does to the developing brain and intellectual capacity - if you don't have the ability to grasp how complex systems like WIC work, then you certainly don't have the ability to grasp that expanding them to feed your neighbor doesn't take food off your table.

    Add in a dash of echo-chamber schools and communities in rural areas where you can go months if not years without seeing anyone who challenges your assumptions about the world. There's a REASON big melting pot cities tend to be more liberal - it's a lot harder to be anti-Muslim when the Muslimah next door cat sits while you're out of town and leaves you baked goods. After you mix that together, throw it in a pot with an adult reality where the only affirmation they get is online in communities that validate their insanity, which they never developed the intellectual reasoning capacity to be able to see through.

    Trying to convince someone that has been steeped in that level of poison that their viewpoint is wrong is like trying to convince someone that chairs belong on the ceiling. The only successes I've ever had at getting through to someone that far gone required the patience of a river. You have to be willing to start over, to invest the time developing their intellect and reasoning capacity as if they were children. It's exhausting, and not something that can be effectively done over the internet at all.

    In the end, you're dealing with someone who's brain has actually developed in a calcified pattern that is truly incapable of grasping the higher-order concepts necessary to have the conversation appropriately. They can no more participate in the conversation than a one-legged man could win an ass-kicking contest. We've already lost this generation - we need to fix the next one.

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    1. Just one thing I would like to add to your list above: A deeply suppressed sense of failure combined with a sense of entitlement.

      These people (usually men) come from a generation that was raised on stories that Grandpa worked hard so that Dad could live the American Dream, and now Dad is passing on that legacy to you. But they didn't do as well as Dad, maybe not even as well as Grandpa. The good-paying job with a solid pension didn't come true for them. Or the family business got swallowed/crushed by Walmart or a multinational corporation in Dad's industry. Or the family farm got foreclosed by the bank. Things that don't happen to people who are Worthy of The American Dream.

      In many cases, it didn't happen to these guys, they watched it happen to Dad while they were still young enough that he was supposed to be Superman, which can be more painful. Either way, they feel that they (or Dad) have failed. But it is so much less painful to say that they did their best, but got ripped off by an unfair "system" that has been "taken over" by some group with evil intent. Somebody Not White.

      It's so much less painful than looking inward, looking at the fact that they supported tearing down the social contract that Grandpa fought (and maybe died) for. They supported Union-busting politicians and the privatization of everything that the New Deal set up for the non-profit Good of All Americans. They vilified the working class as slackers. They ennobled the very tycoons who sent jobs overseas while pocketing billion dollar bonuses.

      Yes, they made heroes of the very people who stole from them, and the only answer I can find to why is because the thieves were Successful White Men. And these people, more than anything, aspire to become Successful White Men. It was supposed to be their birthright. If they got up in the morning and didn't fuck off all day, it was supposed to be theirs for the taking. Anyone who didn't get their oversized slice of American Pie is, by their definition, a slacker and a failure, just like those lazy dark-skinned people.

      Yet here they are with $260 in their savings account, 58 months of payments to go on the truck, an upside-down mortgage, etc. How could this have happened? The only answer that does not cause agonizing pain is that somebody DID THIS to them. And it can't be Successful White Men like the Koch brothers, because that still hurts a lot when you believe in being White as an important thing. No, it must be Jews like me or dark skinned people. THEY are the kind of people who would steal their country from them.

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    2. I like your post very much!
      Jeanne Craver

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    3. love this-as a teacher, you are 100% correct. I have fought for 10 years to try to teach people to think for themselves and investigate what they believe, but most of them are too intellectually lazy to do so. If its not on the multiple choice test, they not only don't need to know, they don't want to know. And their parents do nothing to try to help us. They have essentially turned over the intellectual and mental health of their children to a system that only cares about numbers, not actual reasoning skills.

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    4. It's not generation specific. I used to belong to a Reserve Component NCO academy. Most of the senior instructors and administrators were Vietnam veterans. Many, if not most of them, are now true believers of Fox's narrative. Many of them pass around "facts" derived from places like The Blaze, etc.. Mind you, these are people who taught NCO's how to deal with stressful situations AS THEY ARE. To sift through the various layers of BS and get to the issues. I really have to wonder what the hell happened to their ability to use reason and logic?

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    5. You forgot to add the evangelical ministers in so many churches that are spreading the hate. Even the Christians that DO NOT go to church, defend and believe the evangelical views - just crazy!

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    6. I wonder if perhaps this has something to do with war trauma. There do seem to be a lot of vets involved.

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    7. A quote from one of Jim's favorite authors seems appropo here, " his intellect froze solid at matriculation." That one quote has led me on a lifelong quest to try and learn something new EVERY day.

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    8. All while these same people believe that they're the sharpest tools in the shed. Dunning-Kreuger in action.

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  26. oh...my...lord....These people are scary, the current atmosphere in this country is scary. We need to stop building prisons and start building more nuthouses. No, they won't apologize nor will they slink away in silence. They'll be like my 5 year old grandson whose response to being told to go to bed or pick up his toys is "Yeah, but...." ~ Heidi (I don't know how to work the comment as thingie)

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    1. Heidi,
      Hit the down arrow on the comment as box. It will give you a menu. I always use the Name/URL selection and just put my name in. Hope this helps.

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    2. I will give it a shot, Lucas, thanks.

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  27. Gee, I'm surprized you didn't mention Twilight Zone episode, The Monsters Are On Maple Street. People overreacting because of one tidbit of misinformation.

    The paranoia is mind-boggling. Especially from a nation of people who have easy access to education.

    Thank you again for the clarity, sir.

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  28. I have stopped trying to reason with wild-eyed, frantic, conspiracy addicts. They're everywhere here in Texas. It's all I can do to cut the loudest voices from the herd, and tell the rest, "There, there. It's going to be all right," in my very best soothing Mommy voice. Hopefully, I can lower their blood pressure a few points and keep their twitchy, sweaty fingers off their brand-new Jade Helm Special sidearms. At least until I leave the grocery store.

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    1. They are everywhere...I live in (very) NW Washington, about a dozen miles from the US/Canada border & they are all over the place here too. We are not an open carry state, but the number of people with severe paranoia and an arsenal is mind boggling. The population of my town has more than doubled over the last 15-20 years, almost 12,000, it seems that the number of sane reasonable people vs. batshit crazy has gotten smaller with the rise in population.

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  29. Is it very very wrong of me to hope that somewhere, somehow, everyone involved in Faux Noise ends up in front of some super judgmental revengeful deity? Well, everyone north of the policy and content generation level anyway--I have nothing against the poor bastards manning the cameras and doing makeup and the like. Shit jobs abound and everyone needs to make a living. They get a pass. The rest of them, though? Here's hoping for something truly inventive, painful, and eternal. That would be awesome.

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    1. Sorry, but there are no camera(woen. Studio cameras, by and large these days, are robots operated from the control room.

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  30. I'm thinking of the young woman who was in the car with Finnicum who was interviewed on a major network (maybe CNN - not sure). She insisted he had his hands up when he was shot. Then the journalist showed her the video. Even looking right at the video, she continued to insist he had his hands up, when clearly, he did not. She said, "I know what I saw." This seems very much like a religious belief to me. She also said she was willing to die for the cause, which she considered fighting to save her country. Very, very sad to see this poor young woman so completely brainwashed that she can't even see what is in front of her eyes.

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  31. It is certainly a mess. Reading your stuff makes me feel hopeful, though. We're not all crazy, anyway.

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  32. Great read. One further typo: Unless the "howlin mob" goes full Donner, it is not "satiated", it is sated.

    Yeah, I know...
    (Sung to the tune of Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther" theme)
    .... Pedant. Pedant. Pedant, pedant, PEDANT, pedant, pedaaaannnnttttttt....

    Keep up the good work, sir.
    Brian Jones
    Docksixchronicles.blogspot.com

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  33. *slow clap*

    Another essay, spot on. Do you think the folks who see themselves come alive through your words realize how rediculous they come across? I would think so but as always, they will double down on their delusions, thus becoming more dangerous. They are a threat to civil society...

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    1. I don't think they'll even read the essay. Stonekettle Station is probably on the "don't touch" list.

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  34. Holy hell! I love your articles but this one really takes the cake! Mr. Wright, if you are ever along the Washington coast, looking for someone to buy you a beer, it would be my honor. Keep up the good fight!

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  35. Where does the fear come from? Oh, I know, but really--how does a whole society allow itself to become so mired in fear? How does it feel to live in such abject fear all your life, to be truly paranoid? It must be awful--and it's especially sad that it happens in one of the richest, most powerful nations on Earth.

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  36. While I often decry the inability or unwillingness of people to check their sources, it's a little unfair to blame the public for believing in Wayne Simmons if he was backed up by both Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. That said, it's becoming so hard these days to determine whether statements reportedly from some of THOSE people are true or satire.

    I find myself fascinated by watching US politics, it makes me feel just that little bit better about our Australian system. Thank you for your intelligent and entertaining viewpoint, I've been following you on Facebook for a while now and your posts (and highly intelligent commenters) are ones I always make time to read.

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    1. I would say that when the person's bio reads like he was a combination of Jason Bourne and James Bond, and he talks like a combo of Rambo and Rocky, it's time to be a little skeptical.

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    2. It's always been my experience that the most deadly and dangerous people in our military are the quietest ones. They have no reason to brag. They know how good they are.

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    3. Lucas, I would add to that distinction most of the higher ranking black belts I knew when I was still fighting martial arts. It's when I decided pretty much the sexiest thing about a man is a sense of himself that has no need to prove a damn thing. And they could defuse a situation practically with a look--anytime some yahoo in a bar found out there were martial arts masters in their midst they were always itching for a fight to prove how tough they were and what a bunch of pussies guys who wear "pajamas" and fight on a mat are. The level of restraint looked effortless, and perhaps it was. I always figured it came down to: if you could kill someone with your bare hands it was better to ... not. -- Tracy

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    4. I don't wish to go down another conspiracy theory hole but: I have to wonder if Rumsfeld put this Simmons guy up the way he did simply for the propaganda value to the Bush administration. Just like I never did buy the theory that a lt. col. could do the whole Iran/Contra thing on his own without the higher-ups' approval - I'm just not buying off on the idea that this guy fooled Rumsfeld and the whole Pentagon.

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  37. I hope you are still taking deep breaths of fresh Alaska air to clear your lungs after going that deep into the Slough of Despond and the Sewers of Insanity which this cobbled together coalition of fundamentalists inhabit. This morning I was listening to the list of demands the New & Improved Left Behind BLM Patriots at the Malhuer Refuge here in Oregon are making to the local residents before they'll leave...maybe...not. Insanity on a shingle. Our constant question around here is how do these people, not just our Oregon invaders, but the whole right wing nation, get there, wherever their there is, from a semi-sane, determined opposition point to your complete Twilight Zone. You have provided a good map of how devious and selfish the trip is and who enables it. Those damned vampires behind the curtains, with their bloody hands dripping on the controls. All for a temporary bit of power and money. It's a game to them. A long con using cons using cons. And I don't mean the honest criminals in jails. Mr. Wright, please find a way to put this information out to more of the general public. Sit down with Charlie Rose and make him a little less comatose for once? Rachel Maddow? Give OPB something to talk about other than repeating RW talking points without refuting them...oh, time's up, didn't we question any of this shit yet, maybe next week? Zacharia? All of the so-called "liberal media" is pretty much owned by the right side of the divide so it would be tough, but your research needs to be out there to counter the dangerous group think too many of our fellow citizens are trapped in. I'd feel sorry for them if I didn't feel they are really getting dangerous to the rest of us. People I work with are practically peeing their pants with glee that HRC will soon be in prison for the rest of her life...because...well...just because...she's HRC. And then Trump will be King, Rubio will replace that liberal commie Pope and Cruz can be the new Torquemada and let his dad help him at work. And the Queen of Trump's new cabinet position, Political Incorrectness & Incivility, Sarah Palin, will meander around in the wreckage pulling her Mother Courage wagon looking for bodies to turn in for their pelts. Yep, it's catching!

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    1. Thank you. I've been thinking the same thing. I would love to see this go on national TV. John Oliver maybe. He's goofy but he is watched and gets results. This would be right up his alley.

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  38. This is a good essay. Never are the words, "mental illness" spoken however. Truly, that is what these fanatics are suffering. They are quite simply mentally ill. Just like any organ can become diseased, the brain is a very very complicated organic computer. Wires get crossed, chemicals become unbalanced. It is the organ most likely to malfunction, due to it's complexity. We never talk about this, we stigmatize it and we FEED it, giving their paranoia so much press, we almost make it credible. They need help. Alcohol, which I'm always assuming is part of the equation, fuels the fire in their brains. Yes, they are dangerous, but they should not be baited. I am happy to see you call out certain individuals, and state the facts, but we truly need to address this problem as a medical one.

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    1. Unfortunately I'd have to disagree with you. This isn't a mental illness. It's more a product of indoctrination.

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  39. As always, one voice of reason shouting the truth. I fear for this country, and for my grand children and grand children who must live with the results of this kind of madness. Keep shouting Jim, and God help us if we can't stop the insanity.

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  40. Fantastic piece sir. I'm a new reader and known as a cheap bastard but this stuff has me heading to the donation button. Keep 'em coming.

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  41. In your blog you ask time and again, where does it come from (the craziness)? The best article I have seen that explains in ways I can understand was in an article in Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-m-shaw/what-malheur-occupation-patriarchy-masculinity_b_9116064.html that addresses the connection to the lunacy to the loss of masculinity. I can't recall where I saw the link the first time and apologies if it was part of one of your FB threads. That is one of the hazards of spending too much time on the internet. Anyway, regaining masculinity seems to fit the profile of so many of these people. It tells me that mental health in America is woefully neglected.

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    1. I saw that Huff Po piece; thought it made a lot of sense. Some similar research came to light regarding the past couple of school shootings.

      AH from Oregon

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  42. One of my favorite quotes is manifesting itself like one of those drug resistant viruses we hear about... "Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity". With the amount of information that is available at just the click of a mouse, which truth be told, is a big part of the problem, since we all know that everything on the internet is absolutely true, to get encapsulated in the wormholes these people find themselves in is just mind numbing. As has been proven time and again, eye witness accounts are incredibly unreliable, people see what they want to see, and will fill in the blanks to fit their perspective. When proven wrong by hard facts, will still standby their version of events. Now add in the lemmings that believe whatever someone tells them if it even remotely sideswipes a cause they support, and we end up with the likes of Simmons being lauded without question. Its been never truer then in these days of the information and technical age...There's one born every minute.

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  43. I always love reading your essays. Man, I sure hope you've called the police or the FBI on that asshole who's making all of those threats on you. Stay safe, okay?

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  44. "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street." Loved that episode...

    Gus Frederick
    Silverton, OR

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  45. And quotes from one of my favorite (and apropos) TZ episodes to boot. Bravo.

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  46. I have been having a conversation with a friend recently about where these people come from; it boils down to fear and hatred of "different". Thank you for an insightful essay!
    AH from Oregon

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  47. Our fear will take our guns away--not the government

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  48. Superb essay, Jim. All of it well thought out. Especially love your tying it into a Twilight Zone episode. You can never go wrong with Twilight Zone.

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  49. My dear old Dad believes it all. Even thirty years ago, he made sure he had ammo for his WWII army rifle, because he was terrified the (insert villains of the day) were going to invade the neighbourhood (2BR 1 bath single-family houses) to steal his few assets.

    Sadly, I avoid talking to him as much as possible. My blood pressure is too high already.

    Pat in Canada

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    1. Great essay! It's hard to have a conversation with these people; there are only so many neutral topics to discuss. Once the weather, movies and travel plans are covered, it's time to stop talking before they start their rants. (Family, gotta love em, don't gotta like em.)

      Thanks for sharing the message.

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    2. Can't talk even about the weather (climate change) or movies (except really dull ones). Travel plans can be limited, and then if they are going anywhere that might have people whose skin is a different color, or whose government isn't right wing....

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  50. A former NPS co-worker from an undisclosed location:

    "So week one of my prison sentence is over. For those that have been living in a bubble let me fill you in. Back in January a bunch of stupid people broke into the offices of a national wildlife refuge and have been holding it hostage for the last month. Do to the situation and the threat against federal employees, all national wildlife refuges and bureau of land management offices are in lock down. This means we can only go places in pairs, we are not allowed to wear our uniforms, all emblems have been stripped from the vehicles, the visitor center is closed, all outreach programs and school visits to the refuge have been cancelled for the time being, and I get to spend alot of time in my office. They have brought in more law enforcement officers to protect facilities. For those of you that thinks that all sounds bad it gets worse - we are now practicing active shooter drills and take over scenarios just in case. Oh the joy of my life right now. Hopefully this situation will end soon and we can return to normal."

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    1. That is weird, I have a family member who works for the NPS in CA and it was business as usual. Nothing was changed because of the Oregon Idiots. Maybe you are stationed closer? Or exaggerating?

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  51. Thanks Jim. I marvel at your resiliency and resolve dealing with ignorance.

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  52. They don't need to climb out from under a rock. Fox News will drag them out.

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  53. No Purity Of Essence references. Hmmm.

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  54. I heard echoes of Joe McCarthy in John's screed. I remember the pamphlets that warned me to watch my neighbor - and my family - in case they were Commies. *sigh*

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  55. Love this, especially since I admit to some curiosity about the origins of this "militia" mindset in recent years. It's helpful to me to have some background. Thank you.

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  56. Faux Noise is a bit like the beauty salon for older ladies - everything that is said there is the absolute gospel and you can't convince the patrons differently, even with spot on proof. It's just a damn shame we can't take a page out of Canada's book and ban them from broadcasting as a "news" channel. :/

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  57. "Fear makes stupid people do wicked things."
    —Leigh Brackett, in The Long Tomorrow

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  58. You had to mention Camel Spiders!!! (shudder)
    But still, another excellent dose of sanity. If that Pennington knows what's best for him, he'll stay at home and maybe hide under his bed for solace from all the boogie men he so desperately fears evidently.
    M from MD

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  59. I love a good read with a sharp twist in the middle even if I anticipate it coming. Excellent essay sir. This is why I donate to you.

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  60. Ain't it a shame. Funny though,how Rod Serling could see it coming. He was one insightful character.
    Great essay. Fun read. I've read some about that goof. Hard to believe no one checked out his credentials. I guess, why bother with those pesky details when you need a war fix, and a hankering for some torture.
    If we truly had the government the Bundy boys say we do, they'd be a smoldering pile by now.
    Got together with a guy I hadn't seen for 6 years. He's gone down the Fox hole. The changes in him was unreal. He's now a true hawk. He never served of course.
    "Hard times do flush out the chumps "! Evert McGill

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  61. Interesting. I enjoyed reading your article.

    Like most such things, a lot of what it said is subject to interpretation though. For example, when you took Pennington's "we'll see. eventually" as a "little, veiled threat"...really? In my experience, 'we'll see' is a reference to eventually finding out who is right and who is wrong. YMMV, but in my eyes you seem a bit paranoid thinking of that as a threat.

    In another of his comments he refers to using stacked bodies for protection - a bit gruesome I must admit. Still, (devil's advocate here) was he saying he would kill you and use your body for protection, or was he saying your own ignorance/stupidity would get you killed and he would use your body for protection? I heard the latter; offensive yes, but not threatening.

    Lastly, in the series of emails where you claimed to be "shining him on", are you sure he wasn't shining YOU on? I'm pretty certain that your replies to his comments would be quite inspirational to his fellow "patriots" when posted in HIS blog - assuming he writes one.

    Just a few things to think about. Keep writing.

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    1. Interpretation? Fair enough. However, you might have a different interpretation if those letters were addressed to you.

      Thanks for clarifying your position of Devil's Advocate. Where I'm from we call that something else.

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    2. I'll back up Jim Wright's interpretation.

      Firstly, he gets a lot of mail like what he shows above, only much of what he doesn't show undoubtedly has far less nuance. I'd bet good money that "Die commie traitor" is common thread all of them hang on and that as a consequence Jim knows exactly what he's seeing in Pennington's missives.

      Second, I've had the dubious pleasure of talking with some of the more radical militia types myself and I can tell you that they are very open about their "immigrants in the ocean, traitors up against the wall" yearnings.

      Jim has read this one wright.

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  62. How do people become like that is a question me and my late friend of 47 years, Windy, were wrangling with this last August during one of our interminable phone conversations. I sure wish he'd lived long enough to get a chance to read this, Jim.

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  63. Thank you again for an excellent essay. It hasn't been easy at all here in PDX and Oregon dealing with this invasion. -- Duffy

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  64. Another great essay, Jim! Thanks for continuously keeping us informed of all the nutjobs.

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  65. All these right wing deluded, exploited, brain-washed and needlessly terrified and turned hateful people.

    What a sad, pathetic, warped oughta be criminal waste of minds and lives and time and potential. Multiplied and rippling out like a malign shadow over a country and over people and over a world that could be so much better if they were able to think and work and do so much better than they've been misled into thinking and spewing forth and doing.

    To quote Mr T I pity the fools!

    I recoil in revulsion and horror from them and I know they are so utterly lost and wrong but I do pity them too.

    Jim Wright, you are a champion and spot on. Thanks again.

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  66. When you decide to expose someone,you certainly do it thoroughly.I have been reminded more than once recently of the similarities to the "commie witch hunts" the USA had too.Thankfully ,here in the UK ,we had a different attitude to "lefties ,liberals and moderates"and we still don't use them as terms of abuse or derision.I 've been following the elections and the events you've been writing about with a mixture of incredulity and amusement.The bigot with the gun in one hand and the bible in the other is a very scary individual.That there are so many of them is worrying and the fact that some of your politicians are using these peoples fears as a platform for getting elected to President naturally casts doubts on their abilities to engage diplomatically with the rest of the world.I voted to keep Trump out of the UK.I reckon he's as dangerous to our way of life here as Abu Hamza.It took us long enough to get rid of him.
    (Beth Wales)

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  67. Probably the saddest thing about the internet, in my opinion, is that these insane factions have such easy communication and access to "sources" to fuel their lunacy. When I was a kid and you'd hear about these guys, they lived in woodland compounds or hid their "operations" in basements. They had mailing lists and needed donations for postage and the alcohol and paper needed to operate their mimeograph machines cranking out their absurd ramblings and it took years to build up their lists of like-minded nut cases because their paranoia saw every new member on their lists as a federal plant until he'd been around awhile.

    Now they can spread their bile with a few keystrokes and an alias. Hell, some of them don't even use aliases. It's that sad twisted vile little underbelly that is a byproduct of the "information age"--terrorists domestic and foreign have tools they never had before. --Tracy

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  68. I know one of the directors of AIM. He is also the President of Accuracy in Academia. They are nothing but spin doctors, and not very good at it since Cliff Kincaid took over AIM following Reed Irvine's death. Pure Neocon bullshit, dedicated to manufacturing talking points.

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  69. Great piece: and, from another Twilight Zone: “All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance—then we become the gravediggers.
    Something to dwell on and remember, not only in The Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God’s earth."
    Deaths-Head Revisited, The Twilight Zone (if you can find room on your FB page, I'd be honored if you'd friend me: Robert W. Alexander Jr.

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    1. Excelelnt powerful quote. Thanks for that.

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  70. Jim,

    Check out "The Sands of the Kalahari" for a similar morality tale about the knife edge of civilization that we walk daily.

    Great piece. Save a friend space for me on FB, eh?

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  71. Fascinating essay. I enjoy ready your commentary.

    As far as truth, it is irrelevant, as is fact checking. The afterlife of political and religious falsehoods is one of immortality. Once this crap hits social media, even if it is thin enough to pump rather than shovel, it's folded into its targeted base and becomes unassailable truth. The very mechanisms of fact checking, vetting reliable sources, evidence to the contrary, etc are actually used to support said pumped pigshit as part of its apologetic apparatus. I used to think that the nature of false information was self correcting over time because it was factless and had no foundation set in reality. I no longer believe that. Sister Sarah taught them that to question is to persecute. Politics has become religion with the extreme right in more ways than one. Confession and repetition makes it true. It's all that is needed. A bit depressing to realize this on a sunny Maine morning. The ideological base of right wing extremism is still a house of cards. But they have become very thick, heavy cards. The weight makes its own foundation. I find that very disturbing.

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  72. I'm betting Pennington drinks bad coffee, by choice. Swilling re-heated Folgers will drive anyone to madness.
    Wait, I hear the Rockect calling! Must stave off the madness with espresso.
    Some friends in Alaska pointed me in the Stone Kettle direction, glad I followed.
    Cheers
    Paul

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  73. you know, I'm a 72 year old great grandma..and I've seen a lot of weird shit..but nothing is weirder than this new breed of crazies..if anything is going to bring us down, it's going to be these nut cases...because the rest of us are too lazy to get up and fight them...easier to click on that tv and see what the Kardashians are up too..sigh*..we're fucked.

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  74. FWIW, here is an article on Simmons's arrest: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/15/wayne-shelby-simmons-fox-news-commentator-indicted/ I think we can expect the usual denials and conspiracy theories from the people he has conned, since it's always painful to admit you have been a chump.

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  75. I so do appreciate the work that went into this piece of yours, Sir Jim. I took a semester on the United States Constitution in law school and received an Honors grade on the written course examination. That means that I learned some actual facts about our constitution and what some of the actual words actually mean. I am both sad and angry that so many Americans seem to have such strange ideas about our constitution, strange ideas that apparently they have received through being deluged with false propaganda from certain personal power or control seekers. Thank you for your work.
    Larry A. Scott, Esq., retired.

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    1. P.S. Being a very serious armchair student of United States foreign policy, I took a risk recently and sent this privately to some family and friends. From my studies, I believe it is pretty much correct. I think it fits here, but of course that is up to you, Sir.

      I would welcome any serious, factual, and civil comments. I am otherwise completely unfamiliar with Mr. Stockman and have not been interested in researching him. Therefore it might be best, for me at least, to limit any comments to the statements contained in the body of this one work. Thank you.
      -----------------------------
      Date sent: January 2, 2016
      Subject: Good news that matters to you for 2016: There is no real terrorist or Muslim threat

      There is no real terrorist or Muslim threat to those of us living in the United States.* This booklet-length piece by David Stockman has it put together better than I have seen it before ever all in one place. Man oh man is this meticulous. We have seen many or most of these facts over time, but not this well organized and integrated. Huge thanks to Mr. Stockman and to the sister who sent me this link.

      http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/christmas-2015-why-there-is-no-peace-on-earth/

      Those who make money from making war, huge money in a few cases, are big liars I am sorry to say--well, that is to say I am sorry to insult anyone but not sorry that what they say does not include much by way of true facts on these topics. True facts are a major life improvement in this case. The facts are still very sad, but they are a major improvement on the lies....
      --------
      * If there is any serious threat from extremists, it comes from U.S. citizen/resident extremists who fly the "I'm a Christian" flag while they terrify our Muslim neighborhoods and preach their "I'm a Christian"
      terrorism toward our Muslims on television.

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  76. The problem with this "end times" performance art by these militia morons is that they are demanding unwitting audience participation. If they would all just go stand in a circle out in the desert somewhere, and pull the triggers on their penis extenders, I'd be OK with that. But they don't. So it makes me relatively cranky.

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  77. What you're talking about is a large scale radicalization process; anybody wondering how the Islamic Jihadists got so crazy, that's how; just in Arabic and using Islam. Jim, thank you for another great piece.

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  78. I live right across the boarder in Utah from Mr.Pennington, just down the road from Recapture Canyon, Phil Lyman, and the Bundys. Thanks for the heads up with great information. People just want to call these guys crazy or stupid, and just forget about it. Bad idea.

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  79. Actually, the phrase "may you live in interesting times" is inaccurately being attributed to the Chinese, at least according to my limited understanding of the language and culture. First came across this phrase in the Terry Pratchett novel "Interesting times". =)

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  80. Well Jim, wish you had not included that link to the MESA COUNTY PATRIOTS. These people are batshit crazy and I am trying not to be lured back by the siren call of what's next. It would appear that their entire reason for existence is to post never ending conspiracy theories. The more sinister their warped ideas are, the more they wallow in its filth.

    Kudos to you for achieving 'Sophistic Destroyer/Divider' status on their website comments. I would take that as a compliment from this idiotic group.

    Chuck S in Fl

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  81. This article from "I Fucking Love Science" might offer some insight into Wayne Simmons. http://www.iflscience.com/brain/not-all-psychopaths-are-criminals-some-psychopathic-traits-are-actually-linked-success Certainly some of his claims match up against those of Tom Skeyhill.

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  82. These clowns (Pennington and his ilk) are dangerous because they have guns and many are not only not afraid to use them but that they wrap themselves in the culture of sedition as well.

    So when of them says he or she is willing to 'die for the cause' I believe them, until their actions prove otherwise. We all would be wise to do the same at all times.

    Back in 2010 here in Arkansas, a father and son 'sovereign citizen' pair, shot and killed a couple of officers near West Memphis. To me, that is the strongest example of their mind-set.

    scary idiots who are going to get folks killed (besides themselves).

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  83. I will post the link to this on my facebook page, even though I know that my conservative friends will not read it. It should be mandatory reading for all Americans. Of course it would probably not do any good. Like I have often said, “We are all a bunch of animals with the intellect to rationalize our animal behavior, and sad to say, a highly intellectual person can be very good at rationalizing evil.” Oh well, keep it up Jim, maybe it will help. I hope so!

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  84. BRAVO JIM...!!!
    Excellent as usual.
    Point by point, this nails their fantasy world view perfectly.

    Panama_Mike

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  85. Here is something I wrote earlier that may make some wake up to what it means to be anti liberal. “The meaning of liberal may be being changed into a dirty word by the wealth owned media. I have a dictionary with a copyright of 1966. According to it, here is what it would take to be a liberal. You would need to be open minded, be against prejudice and bigotry, generous, favorable to progress or reform, favorable to or in accord with the concepts of maximum individual freedom possible, and in favor of representational forms of government rather than aristocracies and monarchies. From that definition, I would say that there are many closet liberals out there, that do not even know that they are liberal. Of course there are also, many that will argue with the dictionary. If you Google liberal, you will find it hard to put together that definition. Could it be that the wealth owned media is causing the definition to be changed? From that definition, here are a few things that make one a non liberal. Narrow minded, selfish, prejudiced, and a bigot. I take it as a compliment if I am called a liberal. I am probably not good enough to be one, but will keep trying. To bad so many have already been brain washed into believing that liberal is something it is not. Go ahead!! Argue with the dictionary.”

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    1. Bill, here is another definition of liberal that I have always found to be useful when talking to anti-liberals:

      “If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.” John F. Kennedy

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  86. The veneer of civilization is thin and always has been. What is amazing to me is how deeply lost, and how quickly, these fiends have gotten into what Dartmouth Professor and investigative journalist Jeff Sharlet has called their "screaming hallucinations." Moral insanity is a queer disease which seems to spread and act much as a deviant love-child between a virus and fungi might.

    Thanks for the surgical analysis and step by step walk back from the brink.

    If it's any comfort to you, Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, one of my heroes, also receives this kind of hate mail from the same crowd and their friends in the Dominionist movement. I've got to wonder how much overlap there is between the milita folks and Dominionist folks, and how much they intentionally cross-pollinate. Sharlet in his books "The Family," and "C Street," analyses that phenomena as two strains in concert: a populist form of Dominionism and an elitist form. I'd suspect the populist form would be what you'd find in the milita groups. The elitists types are the ones who organize the National and Senatorial Prayer Breakfasts and whom Rumsfeld and his bunch rub shoulders with in high places. Weinstein at MRFF has also written a pretty good analysis called "No Snowflake in an Avalanche," which is also worth reading.

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  87. "And what happens when these people, these lunatic paranoids, finally work up the courage to begin their revolution of false patriots and fake marines? When they finally do take up arms against their own countrymen and come to batter down our doors? What happens after they shoot us down? Or die trying? And stack our bodies like sandbags against the bullets which exist only in their minds?"

    Maybe next time they'll remember snacks. Too bad they didn't steal a logistics officer's medal for supplying the troops along with the other valor stolen.

    I find it disgusting that their vision of the United State's "We the People" doesn't include anyone but white male people. It seems this point of view is gaining ground in the US and I find that scary. Now I just need to find that "Do NOT use as sandbag" list.

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    1. Don't worry, their point of view isn't really gaining ground in the US, it is losing ground fast. Because the majority of angry old while males who think that way are of an age that they are dying off fast. The smaller their numbers grow, the less power they have, the louder they squeal. Their time is up and their numbers soon will be up. And they don't like it one little bit, but time and reaper will do for them, and soon.

      Doesn't mean they can't do a hell of a lot of damage on the way out, though. Which is why the rest of us really really need to get out and vote.

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  88. You have outdone yourself again. Great article; thank you.

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  89. I only come here from time to time, but whenever I do, I am not disappointed.
    Another excellent piece Chief.
    Thanks again.

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  90. Wow! Just, wow! Considering your background Jim, I thought you were very even handed and considerate in your treatment of Mr. Simons. Although, this is a very common thing among the media. I am not surprised how easily this guy and every other fake "former" agent, official or dog catcher gets a talking head gig on FNC or CNN. (Remember Jeff Gannon, the gay hooker from the Bush WH press room?) They don't care about accuracy or truth, they just want to blow those dog whistles and maintain viewing hours from the RWNJ mouth breather / hoveround crowd.

    Just in case you had a dropoff in the howlin' monkey emails: Hey, John Pennington you fucking lying, inbred, corn holing loser...FUCK YOU! I EAS'd the USMC in '96 and I can still kick your balls out your nostrils. If you had any to kick, that is.

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  91. Thank you for this expose. You are fearless and informed which makes you cryptonite to people like Pennington but do you realize they do this all day every day to regular citizens who dare to express an opinion or gainsay their hooey? I blog and post at a local newspaper site and on FB and I have had many such people first attempt to browbeat me into shutting up and then threatening me to shut up and even have had them call my work to try and get me fired. And I am nobody. There are some sick, sick people in this nation and their claims to love it, be defending it, believing in the Constitution are just beyond offensive. And then down here in the South you have the Sons of Confederate Veteran's groups and "flaggers". Some days I just despair of any hope. But you, YOU ARE A HERO.

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  92. Excellent essay, as always, Jim. Oh -- and thanks for the correction to Colorado. I LIVE in Arizona. We have enough nuts of our own.

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  93. And now the last fuckwit holdouts have "turned themselves in" but without "surrendering". Tempting to make some kind of Brokeback joke about how even if they did it they didn't like it, but we're above all that here.

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  94. People like the subjects of this essay are not rational, they're rationalizers, and they are incapable of understanding the difference between the two. Then again, that applies to the majority of the American electorate.

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  95. https://www.hcn.org/articles/malheur-occupation-oregon-ammon-bundy-public-lands-essay

    This guy at High Country News has a nice angle on Malheur.

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  96. Sounds like the 1950 communist scare. Things really haven't changed much. Just more profits to be made.

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  97. I have one RIGHT NEXT DOOR. Crew cut,big "stand in front of them if not behind them" sticker on his car. Applied for a job...twice...at the sheriffs office and got turned away. I have no idea if he's armed...but he makes me nervous.

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  98. The way Pennington ended so many of his communications with veiled threats about how someday, somehow, you would "get yours" seems to be somewhat characteristic of a certain right-wing mentality, one that insists on its own rightness and how anyone who disagrees deserves to be punished and SHALL be... I wonder whether this attitude ties into their fascination with their apocalypse myth? The end of the world and the "final judgment" is always just around the corner, and they seem inordinately eager for the "rapture" to arrive and "prove" them right and visit upon all the rest of us the fiery torment they believe we deserve for disagreeing with them. "Just you wait, Jesus is coming back, and then you'll have to admit that I was right, because he'll throw you into a lake of fire!!!"

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  99. For entertainment
    http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/old-school-comic-strips-quiz.htm?mkcpgn=6045405988964&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=hswaccount

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  100. Before St. Raygun there were rules that news organizations using the public airways had to abide by. This rules required fair and balanced reporting and equal time to candidates. St Ronnie felt these rules interfered with free speech and had them repealed, about 1984 appropriately enough. Now the News media gets to use the public airways with no responsibiliy to the public.

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  101. It would be so amazing if someone would start a class-action lawsuit on behalf of the millions (I'm sure) of people who have had serious damage done to their familial relations due to the poison from Fox. Thankfully, my family and I are fine as long as we don't talk politics, but that I even have to listen to some of the things they say--imported straight to their brains from that fucking HORRIBLE "news" network--is at times too stressful to bear. I HATE Fox News and all their lies, and even though I believe in a loving God and that there's no such thing as Hell, I pray that those duplicitous bastards receive a humongous dose of their own karma in the end for all the hate and misery they've created throughout society.

    Sorry, I have to post anonymously, I can't risk my family knowing that I talked about them this way. My apologies. :(

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