Lots of Griping on the Western Front

firearms, Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

This is what Freedom!® looks like, folks:

Yes, it looks a lot like a Monty Python skit.

It may be we won’t need reinforcements after all, as the Cliven Commandos appear to be on the brink of taking each other out.

The armed anti-government play-warriors who built a military force around a racist redneck rancher in Nevada have split into rival factions and are now at the brink of civil war, calling each other crazies and traitors and spreading rumors that Eric Holder planned a drone strike on them. . . .

. . . In this Waco-wacko Woodstock of woolly-bully mountain men, the irony and the insanity spiked last weekend when leaders of the most prominent militia group, the Oath Keepers, began complaining of armed madmen “in the camp running amok.” They eventually pulled back from their positions, claiming they had received intelligence suggesting that the Obama administration’s attack drones were incoming.

That “redeployment” pissed off other armed patriots who stayed behind in Nevada, who now call the Oath Keepers and their prominent leader, Stewart Rhodes, cowards and traitors who might actually be working for the U.S. government. “They committed a deliberate act of desertion,” Blaine Cooper—a de facto leader of the remaining militiamen—said in his own video, embedded at the top of this post.

They appear to sincerely believe Eric Holder has ordered a drone strike to take them out, and the fact that this hasn’t happened yet is attributed to the mighty power of their stalwart resolution. I’d also hate to think what they all smell like by now. I’m thinking that if they don’t shoot each other soon either the fumes or the summer heat will at least cause them to redeploy back home. No need to waste taxpayer dollars on drones.

Speaking of crazy, I’m closing in on finishing The Book, and there’s a chapter on True Believers and Mass Movements that these guys fit right into. I’ve been helped a lot by a book called The Unpersuadables: Adventures with the Enemies of Science by Will Storr (Overlook Press, 2014). This book actually is a kind of meditation on why people believe crazy things, and it is absolutely fascinating. I just wish Storr had spent some time with 9/11 truthers, who I think qualify as enemies of science, or at least enemies of things like gravity and principles of architecture.

Storr suggests that our brains haven’t evolved as far beyond the age of myth as we’d like to pretend, and we all live inside our own personal myth. Our experiences are framed by our personal, mythical (and usually self-flattering) narratives, not data. We feel emotions and impulses, generated in the subconscious, that we cannot explain, so we make up stories to explain them. We create our stories from our biases, however, not from objective fact, and that’s how we interpret the world. And we all do this.

I would argue that some of us are better at critically examining what we want to believe, though. We may hear a rumor about X, and we may want to believe it, and we may flirt with believing it. But then we cast about for something approximating objective fact to support X, and if we don’t find it we (possibly reluctantly) put X aside, clinging to a hope that maybe it’s true while acknowledging that it probably isn’t.

Others of us, apparently, lack self-critical filters and embrace whatever we want to believe as the Holy Truth. And if you can find others who have embraced the same beliefs, you’ve got yourself a mass movement, or at least a Band of Feedback Loopy Brothers.

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  1. Stella  •  May 2, 2014 @8:44 am

    You know, it’s kinda cute the way some people use the word “intelligence.”

    I appreciate the book recommendation, and look forward to reading yours.
    Many thanks to you for maintaining an always interesting blog.

  2. c u n d gulag  •  May 2, 2014 @8:48 am

    So many armed and crazy dipsh*ts – so few real leaders.

    Maybe it’s time to leave, play-soldiers.

    If the Oaf Keepers can’t herd their armed oaf’s, then it’s time to go home – where the Mrs. has an ever growing “Honey-Do List.”
    First-off on that list, will be to shower for a day or two before you can even speak to her.

    On second thought, instead of facing your angry Mrs., maybe all y’all’d be better off hoping that that rumor of Holder sending in drones, is true.
    They’ll be quicker about it than the Mrs.

  3. c u n d gulag  •  May 2, 2014 @8:52 am

    Oh, and congrats on finshing the book, maha!

  4. c u n d gulag  •  May 2, 2014 @8:53 am


    Sounds dirty.

  5. goatherd  •  May 2, 2014 @9:11 am

    I couldn’t watch the whole thing, but I got about halfway through. It reminds me of the “secret clubs” that my friends and I made up as children, although our meetings tended to be a little less formal, The fun part was the posturing and pretending. Most of the clubs were abandoned for more interesting activities, like a good baseball game. I don’t remember any one of them lasting long enough for us to agree on a secret handshake.
    But, these guys definitely have the stick-to-itiveness that we lacked. Especially since they have all be living in accordance with an heroic creed “all of their lives.” I definitely believe that we would all be better off if they went back to paintball, like these guys have:


    The link is from one of favorites, “The Fast Show.”

  6. maha  •  May 2, 2014 @9:50 am

    I stayed with it until they started to talk about the area they were occupying as the “kill zone.”

  7. Swami  •  May 2, 2014 @10:26 am

    These are the times that try men’s souls…. 🙂

    Gulag… Talking about Oaf keepers…Check out Mike Huckabee’s sons.

  8. moonbat  •  May 2, 2014 @12:59 pm

    Somtime ago, I posted a link to an article by a former libertarian, from Nevada, who explained why he left the cause. He mentioned that his former cohorts would believe anything, the crazier the better, like Eric Holder standing by to launch a drone attack. He concluded that these guys were mostly harmless, because they were incapable of organizing themselves into a coherent whole. And so it’s not surprising to read about the various divisions and factions appearing at Bunkerville.

    Bookmarked Storr.

  9. Stephen Stralka  •  May 2, 2014 @1:29 pm

    Ooh, True Believers and Mass Movements. I love that stuff. Do you talk about The Pursuit of the Millennium in your book? There’s certainly a powerful strain of antinomianism in the Oath Keepers’ attitudes.

    Of course these other guys, the Bundyites, are even more antinomian. “Oaths? We don’t need no stinking Oaths!”

    Unfortunately for them, one thing you learn from reading Norman Cohn is that antinomianism can be pretty entertaining for a while, but you always get crushed in the end.

  10. Swami  •  May 2, 2014 @2:34 pm

    That “redeployment” pissed off other armed patriots who stayed behind in Nevada

    Oh, no! They didn’t redeploy, they reconnoitered at the local Motel 8 to assess the enemy’s strength and positioning from Fox news. Typical grunts always complaining about how Headquarters division has it so easy. I bet they wouldn’t be grumbling like they are in that video if Holder had called in an air strike on them.

    These colors never run!

  11. paradoctor  •  May 2, 2014 @4:43 pm

    Since you’ve mentioned true believers; check out “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer; a classic in the field.

  12. waspuppet  •  May 2, 2014 @5:41 pm

    They appear to sincerely believe Eric Holder has ordered a drone strike to take them out, and the fact that this hasn’t happened yet is attributed to the mighty power of their stalwart resolution.

    Um, does anyone else see the problem with their “logic” here? They’re gonna be hit by a drone because of their stalwart resolution, and they haven’t been hit by a drone because of their stalwart resolution?

    I’m still against drone strikes, but in the case of the Bundy crew I gotta admit if I had my finger on the button it’d be a tough decision.

  13. erinyes  •  May 2, 2014 @5:59 pm

    They have been emboldened. I don’t think they fully understand what they are doing, now they are dangerous and deranged. More on this later……

  14. Mike G  •  May 2, 2014 @6:36 pm

    the Cliven Commandos

    or Weight Watchers Warriors

  15. Doug  •  May 2, 2014 @9:31 pm

    I tried to make sense of the video. Surreal. ‘Field of Battle’ .. ‘Desertion’.. ‘Derreliction’.. ‘Command Structure’.. and the word that made me cringe.. ‘enemy’.
    I hope a journalist will someday run that clip and ask the speaker, “Just who were you referring to as the ‘enemy’?” If the US Federal Government is your ‘enemy’, then you are at war with the US and you have committed a criminal act – insurrection.

    Second thought. WHO was the video for? It was staged for the camera – for distribution. Bundy and the cattle never came up. The subject was the departure of the Oath Keepers. I’ve seen rape victims less traumatized than these yahoos. So who was the video for? My guess – other militias. That’s why they had all these gentlemanly ‘votes’. The message – y’all join us – bring your guns. We’ll give your leaders a ‘vote’ in the ‘command structure’. But once you’re here, you can’t leave until I say you can leave.

    Or am I projecting here?

    If the message was an invitation to other groups, what for? The feds have withdrawn and there’s no reason to think BLM yearns for a gunfight over a few cows. SO why are Cliven’s Commandos treating the ranch like Omaha beach and calling for reinforcements? (If anybody saw a clue that the crew is ready to pack it in and go home, point it out to me.)

    IF you think the explosion of militias which coincided with the election of a black POTUS was because the POTUS is black, then there’s a clock ticking. Obama won’t be president in 2017 – much of the rage will evaporate, and so will the chance for a populist revolution (fed primarily by racist rage).

    Having gone this far out on a the limb of speculation.. does anyone think (including the yahoos in NV) that these clowns can fight federal cops – and win? The ONLY… ONLY way an insurrection will succeed is if there is significant popular support and sympathy for the ’cause’ AND there is a ‘battle’ large enough that the federal government must call out troops to quell it. The fantasy is that the troops, faced with orders to fire on their ‘brothers’ will join the revolution and commit a coup against the US Government – a coup the military would not have instigated.

    Here’s what to watch for. If more and more militias show up, then Cliven’s ranch is a planned beachhead for the revolution. If Nevada fizzles, look for the same clown in the video here to pop up somewhere else, trying to pick a fight with a federal agency. One last question, especially if there are more boots on the ground in NV at the end of May, who is financing this project?

  16. Swami  •  May 2, 2014 @11:57 pm

    WHO was the video for?

    Well, Doug, my guess is that the video was put out there to assuage the egos of the guys in that particular unit. Sort of a stabbed in the back narrative designed to excuse the failure of their hoped for objectives by accusing elements of the Oath Keepers ( Eddie Slovic brigade) from withdrawing from the field of battle before a decisive victory could be achieved.

  17. erinyes  •  May 3, 2014 @6:53 am

    It seems to me that under the parameters established during the Bush 43 administration, those men are “enemy combatants”.

  18. goatherd  •  May 3, 2014 @10:21 am

    There is a strong whiff of “Jerusalem Syndrome” or some related psychopathology about some of these folks. Sarah Palin and some of the others always seemed so eager for their cameo appearance in a Biblical drama.

    For example:


  19. Swami  •  May 3, 2014 @12:02 pm

    goatherd …That Jerusalem Syndrome sounds like it’s akin to being “on fire for the Lord”.

    Regarding that natural man link… To my mind the concept of a sovereign citizen appears to be an oxymoron.