Thursday, February 09, 2012

Where Did Sara Go?

by Sara

Greetings, everybody. It's been a long while since I posted. I spent 2011 on a year-long sabbatical from writing, and taking care of family business. We moved back from Vancouver, BC to the US, buying a new house in Seattle (I'm less than two miles from Neiwert as the crow flies now). I finished my MS. And my last baby launched himself into the world. Along the way, I did a lot of reading and a little consulting, and basically regrouped for the next stage of the long, strange trip that's life.

But now I'm back. Starting last week, I've got my own page at I've taken over the Visions page, where I'm putting my shiny new futures degree to work pulling together big-think stories about where we're going as a nation, and how we can realistically set about bringing the progressive vision for America into being.

The new page will include interviews with some of our best and brightest thinkers; articles on people who are figuring out solutions and getting things right; and continued coverage of the conflicts that always ensue when one exhausted worldview starts passing away, and another new one emerges to take it's place. (I think that's what's going on now, and everything we've always done here was, in some way, coverage of that basic conflict.)

If you'd like to keep up with what I'm doing now, your best bet is to subscribe to Alternet's weekly Visions newsletter, which will hit your mailbox with the best of my new page every Thursday. (The link is here -- scroll down to the "Media" section and click on the Visions button to subscribe.)

It's a bigger soapbox, with room for all of us and plenty of new friends. Come on by when you get the chance. I've missed you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ron Paul Set To Speak To 'Sovereign Citizens'—Just As FBI Issues Warning About Them

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

[H/t Heather]

We've been writing here at C&L about the danger to law-enforcement officers (not to mention civil society) posed by the far-right "sovereign citizens" movement for some time. So naturally we were pleased to see the FBI weighed in on the subject this week:
Anti-government extremists opposed to taxes and regulations pose a growing threat to local law enforcement officers in the United States, the FBI warned on Monday.

These extremists, sometimes known as "sovereign citizens," believe they can live outside any type of government authority, FBI agents said at a news conference.

The extremists may refuse to pay taxes, defy government environmental regulations and believe the United States went bankrupt by going off the gold standard.

Routine encounters with police can turn violent "at the drop of a hat," said Stuart McArthur, deputy assistant director in the FBI's counter-terrorism division.

"We thought it was important to increase the visibility of the threat with state and local law enforcement," he said.
And as it so happens, there's going to be a big gathering of "sovereign citizens" coming up soon in Irvine, California, calling itself the Freedom Law Conference, and devoted to teaching you how to free yourself from the tyranny of the federal government:
This 4-day event includes an in-depth class on Avoiding and Defeating IRS Criminal Charges, two keynote banquet speakers, 14 of the most exciting Freedom speakers in the country, and a seminar on Stopping Mortgage Fraud.
Oh, and look who they have lined up to be their keynote speaker:
Yep, the same guy who's out there collecting all those votes for the Republican nomination—not to mention also being the new darling of a clutch of extremely confused (or are they just pseudo-?) progressives.

And in case there was any confusion about the political orientation of the gathering, they announce up front that this is a Patriot Movement event:
Here at Freedom Law School we want to connect Patriots. If you want to attend, but are worried about the cost of a room, no worries! Freedom Law School will get you in contact with other Patriots attending so you can work out splitting the cost of a room.
And yes -- as you can see from pieces like this, Freedom Law School and its scam-artist founder, Peymon Mottahedeh, are very much "sovereign citizenship" promoters.

Among the people Paul will be sharing the stage with is Floyd Banister, an ex-FBI agent who now makes a very profitable living on the Patriot chicken-dinner circuit.
Banister says that he investigated radical tax protesters' claims about the IRS for two years. He concluded they were right, and told his IRS supervisors so. He was placed on leave, then resigned in 1999 to "comply with my oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution."

The following year, he and Bob Schulz, founder of a leading anti-government Patriot tax-protest group known as the We the People, hand delivered grievances signed by supporters to federal officials in Washington stating that the 16th Amendment that allowed a federal income tax was illegally ratified, and that no law or regulation requires most citizens to pay income taxes or have taxes withheld.

Banister was indicted in 2004 in California for preparing false income tax returns and conspiring to defraud the federal government stemming from his work on behalf of a businessman client. The client went to prison, but Banister was acquitted.
Yep, that's pretty much par for the course for the suckers who sign on to this crap and then try to make it happen.

I also love this quote from Bannister:
"There's definitely a propaganda campaign out there to make us look like a problem to law enforcement," he told his audience at a Patriot conference last year.
Yeah, who knows where people in law enforcement would get that idea? I'm sure it couldn't come from the trail of slain cops and threats to cops and plots to kill cops popping up all over the countryside.