They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

For about 20 minutes Thursday afternoon, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy restated his views on race in America.

The press conference, originally expected to announce legal action against the Bureau of Land Management, instead featured Bundy offering a sort of stream-of-conscience take on the reaction to his comments about black people and slavery. He made no apology, and instead used part of his time to scold the media for its coverage of him.

He stood on a makeshift outdoor stage decked with American flags, with supporters occasionally shouting their approval of him. At the end of the event, a few supporters cursed and yelled at the reporters. Bundy, meanwhile, continued sharing thoughts on "the Negro community" in comments that tracked with the attempted clarification Bundy had given to conservative radio hosts throughout the day.

Read More →

After building himself up as a symbol of the anti-government sentiment that burns hot among conservatives, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy took things to another level: He wondered aloud whether blacks had been "better off as slaves."

And almost immediately, conservatives started hedging. They argued that the showdown was never really about Bundy. His racial sentiments were immaterial to his standoff with the federal government. Government overreach was still the issue here.

Read More →

This is a story about a little political front group that maybe wasn't.

When fliers paid for by a group called Progressive Choice Florida arrived in mailboxes around the state late last month, the local press started asking questions. The fliers aggressively attacked the record of former Gov. Charlie Crist, the erstwhile Republican now running for his old office as a Democrat. The fliers were so aggressive, some wondered whether they hadn't been paid for by Republicans looking to hurt Crist in his primary fight against Democrat Nan Rich.

Read More →

Glenn Spencer has a long history of incendiary and often conspiratorial comments about Mexicans, Mexican immigrants, Mexican-Americans and Jews. He is widely credited with popularizing the conspiracy theory that holds that Mexican immigrants plan to take over the southwestern United States, reunite it with Mexico and perhaps even rename it Aztlan, a name from Mexico's pre-Conquest past. He's also the chairman of an anti-immigrant border activist group called American Border Patrol (ABP), which is widely considered an anti-immigrant hate group. But as we learned last week, Spencer does not like being called a member of a "hate group."

Last week, TPM received a so-called "demand letter" penned by Spencer's lawyer, John Munger, demanding a retraction and apology for an article about the group and further claiming that the respected Southern Poverty Law Center, which was the primary source for the article, is an organization whose "credibility ... is in tatters." ”The [American Border Patrol] is neither a 'hate group' nor 'anti-immigrant,' and characterizing it as such is an insult to the over 30,000 men and women who are proud supporters of the [American Border Patrol's] work to support law enforcement and border security," the letter said.

A review by TPM's legal team concluded that American Border Patrol's threat of a suit was without merit both as to the facts and the law. Further reporting by the TPM news team suggests that Spencer's concern went far beyond TPM - sending similar letters to the Huffington Post and Phoenix television station KTVK, according to the ABP website. The Southern Poverty Law Center confirmed this week it received one, too. And Spencer's chief concern about the prevalence of the label appears to be that it is proving an obstacle to his efforts to sell new border-related technology to the U.S. government.

Read More →

Richard Mack, a former Arizona county sheriff, was one of the better known activists to voice support for Bundy Ranch during its long-running standoff with federal officials over cattle grazing rights. In recent days, as tensions rose, he eventually made his way up to the Nevada ranch to join the fight.

In an interview with TPM on Wednesday, Mack portrayed a scene where the protesters genuinely believed they could be killed by federal agents at any moment. But he also backed off one of the more striking claims he'd made during the standoff. He caught national attention on Monday when he said the protesters were "strategizing to put all the women up at the front" in case the federal officials fired on them. He later said it "was a tactical ploy that I was trying to get them to use."

But Mack backtracked somewhat and told TPM he was mistaken when he said those things. The women had volunteered to go to the front, he said.

"The mistake I made was it was never a strategy. It was never strategized. It was never talked about. The women just did it," he said. "I was never privy to that, so I thought they did strategize that. I thought that would be the only way they would send women up to the front."

Read More →

Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy, whose dispute with the Bureau of Land Management spurred a tense standoff between armed anti-government activists and federal officials over the weekend, had some strikingly specific directions for sheriffs across the country Monday night.

“Disarm the federal bureaucrats," Bundy said in an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity. He had been asked to respond to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's assertion that the Bundy Ranch standoff (as it is now officially known on Wikipedia) was "not over."

Bundy had already asked his local sheriff to arrest the BLM officials who were rounding up his cattle, but he directed his new message to "every county sheriff in the United States."

Bundy's statement brought to the forefront a theory that some on the far right have held for decades: that local sheriffs are ordained with an immense amount of power, going beyond that of even federal authorities. In the Bundy Ranch dispute, that theory is the driving ideology of some of the groups that have rallied to the rancher's side. Those include the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association and the Oath Keepers, whose members are law enforcement officials and military who have pledged to defend the Constitution against government overreach.

Read More →

Federal authorities ended their round-up of a Nevada rancher's cattle on Saturday, citing public safety concerns as self-described militias gathered to protest the government action. At one point, armed individuals had blocked a section of an interstate highway, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

So, having effectively intimidated federal officials from performing their duties, right-wingers who had come to view the showdown as some kind of proxy battle for the future of American freedom quickly claimed victory.

"We won the battle," Ammon Bundy, one of rancher Cliven Bundy's sons, told Reuters.

Cliven Bundy has been feuding with the federal Bureau of Land Management over his use of federal land to graze his cattle. The BLM said it had instructed Bundy, who has not paid for land privileges since 1993, to keep his animals off the land before it started to round them up last week. Bundy countered that his claim to the land pre-dated the federal government's.

Read More →

TPMLivewire