The Oath Keepers have plans for Ferguson

Armed Black Panthers on the steps of the California State Legislature, June 1967.
Armed Black Panthers on the steps of the California State Legislature, June 1967.


According to a story at Red Dirt Report, the leader of the St. Louis County, MO. chapter of the Oath Keepers and his squad …

… will test state law with a unique experiment by arming 50 blacks with AR-15 rifles while marching through downtown Ferguson, Mo.

Sam Andrews, head of an Oath Keepers group in St. Louis County, Mo., confirmed the event will occur within the next “couple of weeks” to demonstrate to local enforcement officials the meaning and intent of Missouri’s open carry law.

“It will be an iconic event,” he said, comparing it to the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima or the Martin Luther King, Jr.-led March on Washington, D.C.

According to Andrews, the group’s plans are motivated by two factors. First, he says the group was told by the St. Louis County police officials, who were otherwise cordial, that the group could not carry long-barreled rifles, like the military-grade weapons the group was armed with, inside Ferguson city limits.  That, Andrews said, is a misinterpretation of Missouri’s open-carry laws.

The second factor, though, is far more interesting and, historically speaking, far more provocative.  According to the website The Root, Black Lives Matter protesters challenged the all-white Oath Keepers about their ability to openly carry arms without fear in the middle of Ferguson’s huge police presence.  So in response, Andrews says his group wants to specifically arm black residents because:

Every person we talked to said if they carried they’d be shot by police. That’s the reason we’re going to hold this event and it will be a legal demonstration.

This is truly significant.  As Adam Winkler argued in his 2011 article in The Atlantic, “The Secret History of Guns,” gun control in the United States was for generations driven by fear of armed African Americans. This is why, for most of their respective histories, both the Ku Klux Klan and the NRA both worked hard to limit civilian access to firearms.

Much of this came to a head in California in 1967 when, as Winkler writes:

THE EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENTS gathering on the west lawn of the state capitol in Sacramento were planning to lunch on fried chicken with California’s new governor, Ronald Reagan, and then tour the granite building constructed a century earlier to resemble the nation’s Capitol. But the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of 30 young black men and women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols.

The 24 men and six women climbed the capitol steps, and one man, Bobby Seale, began to read from a prepared statement. “The American people in general and the black people in particular,” he announced, must …

“… take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.”

Seale then turned to the others. “All right, brothers, come on. We’re going inside.” He opened the door, and the radicals walked straight into the state’s most important government building, loaded guns in hand. No metal detectors stood in their way.

What followed, less than a year later, was the passage of the Mulford Act, which repealed the California state law which allowed the public carrying of loaded firearms. It was signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan, today the patron saint not just of the Republican Party but of the gun rights movement generally.

Into this fraught confluence of gun rights, racism, and fear now tread the Oath Keepers. I’m not sure anyone can predict the outcome.

Honey, where do we keep the waterboard?


From the Dept. of You Can’t Make This Shit Up, the following headline from the Life section of this morning’s Detroit Free Press:

“Try these CIA interrogation tactics in personal situations at home, office”

The Freep’s online version of the article, originally from the Chicago Tribune, has a slightly less horrifying though no less astonishing headline: “CIA interrogation tactics that can be used at home.”

The article is plugging a new book, Get the Truth: Former CIA Officers Teach You How to Persuade Anyone to Tell All written by former CIA interrogator Paul Houston and co-authors Michael Floyd and Susan Carnicero. In the book:

Houston … isn’t suggesting that you treat your nearest and dearest like threats to national security. But he does say that a modified version of the approach he honed at the CIA can be highly effective.

I’m wondering if Houston and his co-authors mean the kind of tried-and-true methods culled by The Washington Post from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program:

  • Rectal feeding and rectal rehydration for uncooperative subjects;
  • Threatening to harm loved ones, including telling one subject that his mother’s throat would be cut if he failed to provide information;
  • Locking a subject in a coffin-sized confinement box for 266 straight hours;
  • Waterboarding a single subject 183 times;
  • Stripping subjects naked, shackling them in a standing position for as much as 72 straight hours, and dousing them with cold water.

What an invaluable resource for home and office.  Is your teenager hesitant to tell you where he and his buddies went last night? Try rectal rehydration! Do you have a subordinate at the office who can’t explain why he keeps missing his sales quotas? The confinement box works wonders!

Just imagine the bestselling advice book these guys could have written with Adolf Eichmann


A ranger, a rogue, and a druid walk into a bar …

How did you spend your Saturday evening?

There are some distinct advantages to coming back to Dungeons and Dragons as an adult. For one, the refreshments are better. Not that I have anything against Nacho Cheese Doritos and Mountain Dew.

Another thing is that if you’ve hung around the game as long as I have — I got my first set of rules back in 1977 or ’78 — you’ve found that the rules have come nearly full circle after the disastrous detour into World of Warcraft territory that was the game’s 4th edition.

The beauty of that is I can dust off a lot of my old materials and with some quick updating get a game up and running again.

But I guess the biggest kick of all, is being able to recapture what were really good times, rediscovering the power of imagination, and sharing that with friends all over again.

I’m old enough now to have passed the game along to my kids, and talking with my son about the adventures he is designing and hearing him recount the misadventures of his friends’ characters is pretty damn cool too.

The writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is another longtime player of the game. He says it as well as anyone:

Jeb is the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Really

Jeb Bush, apparently more serious about his grilling than about foreign policy. (US News photo.)


Today at the Iowa State Fair, Jeb Bush was forced to once again address his brother’s disastrous Iraq legacy, and delivered this gem:

First of all, the Iraqis want our help. They want to know we have skin in the game, that we’re committed to this.

When someone in the crowd reminded him that it was his brother who in 2008 negotiated and signed the status of forces agreement requiring all US forces be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011, he went on to contend something that no one else who pays attention to American foreign policy honestly believes:

We didn’t have to get out in 2011 … It [the agreement] could have been modified, and that was the expectation. Everybody in Iraq and everybody in Washington knew that this deal could have been expanded.

Jeb here is being either willfully misleading or simply delusional.  As Fred Kaplan points out in Slate,

Article 30 of that same agreement stated that its terms could be amended “only with the official agreement of the Parties in writing and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in effect in both countries.” These “constitutional procedures” included a vote by the Iraqi Parliament—and at no time between 2008 and 2011 was the Iraqi Parliament going to take such a vote.

Granted, President Obama did want to get out of Iraq; he won the White House in large part on that promise, and there was no more support in the United States than in Iraq for a continued presence of American troops. And yet Obama did send emissaries—among them former aides to George W. Bush—to seek an amendment to allow a few thousand residual forces. The Iraqi government refused. Unless Obama wanted to re-invade the country, there was nothing to be done.

Frankly, my money is edging toward delusional, in part because of statements like this next one. As CNN reported:

Thursday, reporters asked Bush if he intentionally invoked the phrase “mission was accomplished” as a nod to his brother, who famously spoke in 2003 in front of a banner with almost the same wording splashed across it, yet the war continued on for years.

Jeb Bush, somewhat annoyed, argued reporters were overanalyzing his remarks.

I know you’re obsessed with all this and that’s your job, but it was a mission that was accomplished,” he said, referring to the 2007 surge. “(The phrase) is used. It was actually a movie. It’s been a sequel. Tom Cruise has made a really good living out of it,” he went on to say, appearing to conflate the term with the movie series “Mission Impossible.”

Had enough yet? No? OK, here’s one more.

Asked about waterboarding and other forms of torture, Jeb refused to say whether he would keep in place President Obama’s executive order banning abusive methods of interrogation. Again from the CNN report:

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” he said, saying he prefers to be “cautious” in making such predictions. “When you are president your words matter.”

Later at a separate event in Ankeny, Iowa, he was asked by reporters to clarify whether he was leaving open the idea of allowing methods like waterboarding again in the future.

“I’m not ruling anything in or out,” he said, but stressed “we don’t do torture.”

And Jeb is considered the GOP’s serious candidate on foreign policy. Imagine how the unserious ones sound.