[San Bernardino is No. 13—the thirteenth mass public shooting in the United States in the past week. Most of the others—in Boston, Houston, Sacramento—haven’t received much national news attention, because Americans are still absorbing the horror of what happened last week, when, on the day after Thanksgiving, a man named Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., was arrested after going on a rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three people and injuring nine others. It’s too soon to know what led to the killings in San Bernardino, but it’s a strange fiction to pretend, as we often do, that we have yet to understand what led us to this broader moment. Some of the reasons are in plain sight, and have been for decades….]
[In the first week of August, armed members of the Oath Keepers (the same ones who appeared in Ferguson this week) and other militias arrived at a mine in Montana, posting “no trespassing” signs on public land. The operation is the latest in a string of standoffs involving extremist groups that refuse to recognize the authority of the U.S. government, including incidents at the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon andCliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada.
A new investigation by the non-partisan watchdog Center for Western Priorities has uncovered wide-ranging ties between those extremist groups and Western legislators involved in a coordinated effort to take our national lands from the American people. At the center of the land grab is Ken Ivory, a Utah state representative and president of the American Lands Council. Ivory has been accused of fraud in three states for allegedly scamming local governments into funding the ALC using taxpayer money.
The elected officials supporting state seizure of public lands couch their arguments carefully, using innocuous rhetoric to claim that their only goal is better land management. But in reality, these politicians are following directly in the ideological footsteps of Bundy, the scofflaw rancher who owes more than $1 million in grazing fees to American taxpayers and doesn’t recognize the U.S. government as “even existing.”
[Willie Horton. The name is enough to make a politician blanch. Ever since 1988, when the George H. W. Bush presidential campaign machine wielded the Horton horror story against his Democratic rival, the threat of being “Willie Horton’ed” has shaped the politics of crime and punishment. “The ghost of Willie Horton has loomed over any conversation about sentencing reform for over 30 years,” says Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., co-sponsor of one such proposal.
Now, with crime down and the excesses of the criminal justice system under bipartisan attack, some believe the ghost has been expelled. Upcoming election seasons will put that theory to the test.
How did a single sadistic home invasion — one of many senseless crimes in the violent 1980’s — reshape the politics of criminal justice for a generation? It began with a 30-second television ad.]