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

William Daniel Johnson has a vision for America. The Los Angeles-based lawyer thinks that the United States will see the creation of a white ethno-state within his lifetime.

“I think Trump’s candidacy is helping move us in that direction,” Johnson said in a Monday phone interview with TPM. “Whether he is elected or not, his candidacy is a big factor in helping destroy this middle-of-the-road Republican mindset.”

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For years, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has been dogged by a backburner controversy about whether he is eligible to serve as President since he was born in Calgary, Alberta Canada in 1970. But since Cruz's mother was an American citizen, the place of his birth actually is irrelevant to his eligibility.

Yet Cruz's mother's name appears on a Canadian government document, obtained by TPM in 2013, that lists Canadian citizens eligible to vote in 1974.

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In many ways, the fight the Bundy brothers and their associates are picking with the federal government by occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon is more or less a sequel to the showdown at their father Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch two years ago.

The bulk of their grievances revolve around what they believe is a federal overreach in the management of public lands. But the ideas they promote are not original to them. They appear to be hodgepodge of long-held theories of the hard right, particularly in the rural West, including the Sagebrush rebellion, the Wise Use agenda and the Posse Comitatus movement.

“They’re looking around and they’re borrowing and taking what sounds right to them,” Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, told TPM.

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The takeover of a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon by armed anti-government extremists Saturday was initially a step too far for some other hard-right patriot groups. But with the occupiers, led by Ammon Bundy, commanding national media attention for much of the week, their once-skeptical fellow travelers have started to come around.

It's a subtle shift, but in interviews this week some of the most strident extremist critics of the move on the refuge have conceded that the publicity the action has produced is helpful to their cause. And some of the critics have even gotten in on the action, claiming to act as back channels for communications among the armed occupiers, law enforcement, and the local community.

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On Saturday an estimated 300 protesters meandered a mile from a Safeway parking lot in Burns, Ore. to the home of Dwight Hammond, one of two Hammond men now serving a federal sentence for arson on federal lands.

The crowd had traveled to southeastern Oregon from as far away as Florida, Montana and Idaho to show their support for the Hammonds, a family many out West had come to see as the symbol of long-simmering land disputes between the feds and ranchers. The protesters sang the Star Spangled Banner, waved American flags and carried their homemade, cardboard signs. Some brought the Hammonds cellophane-wrapped blush and yellow flowers and stuck them in a snow bank outside the family's house.

Quickly, however, the protest in Burns transformed from a peaceful demonstration to an armed takeover. One observer told Talking Points Memo that from atop a snow bank in the Safeway parking lot Ammon Bundy ordered protesters to get in their cars and follow him 30 miles away to the Malheur Wildlife Refuge -- the name translated from the French means "misfortune" or "tragedy."

For outside observers, the choice to take a dramatic stand against the federal government at a wildlife refuge in about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get in the Lower 48 seemed, well, odd. The small stone cottage that serves as the refuge's visitors center and was unoccupied over the holiday weekend hardly cuts the profile of a modern day Alamo. But a closer look at the history of the Hammonds' long contentious land disputes with the federal government shows that Malheur has been at the center of those confrontations, with Dwight Hammond allegedly making repeated death threats against the refuge's managers.

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Given how vocal the Sons of Confederate Veterans have been about the removal of Confederate monuments across the country, it’s not surprising a local chapter based in New Orleans decided to sue the city over a recently passed ordinance to remove four statues. But they're being joined in the suit by a number of preservationist groups -- some of them decades old -- that appear to take a more conventional approach to historical preservation.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose Louisiana Facebook page compared the monument opponents to Islamic State terrorists, is identified as a neo-Confederate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Based in Columbia, Tennessee, it reportedly has a membership of more than 29,000, limited to "male descendants of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces."

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