Monday, November 14, 2005

The reason you're not seeing a whole lot of McVeigh-style anti-government activity these days, in my opinion, is that the off-the-edge wackos have been watching the only-marginally-saner Republicans in D.C. and figure they themselves can't be that far from power.

If my theory is correct, it might explain this:

...Activists are trying to put a radical measure on next year's ballot that could make South Dakota the first state to let people who believe their rights have been violated by judges put those judges on trial. Citizens could seek damages or criminal charges.

The measure would overturn more than a century of settled law in the United States by stripping judges of their absolute immunity from lawsuits over their judicial acts....

Legal experts warned that such a provision could dangerously undermine the independence of South Dakota's judiciary, plunge the court system into anarchy, and run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.

And they noted there are already remedies available to the public: Bad rulings can be overturned on appeal, and judges who break the rules can be punished by state disciplinary boards and, in South Dakota and other states, voted out of office....

Judicial immunity, the doctrine that says judges cannot be sued over their judicial acts, was established by the U.S. Supreme Court in an 1871 case....

Lest you think the people behind this are sane and temperate, check out their Web site and note that they call their proposal the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law -- J.A.I.L. for short.

And if you think they want to invoke the law only in the most extraordinary circumstances, well, you're right -- if by "extraordinary circumstances" you mean "whenever they're pissed off." Take a look at their new newspaper ad (PDF). At right, note the first example they list under the heading "Why is the J.A.I.L. Amendment important?"

Crime and no punishment
Deborah Robinson, the U.S. magistrate who recently fined former national security adviser Sandy Berger $50,000 for stealing and destroying classified documents from OUR National Archives, AND NO JAIL TIME.

They want the option of jailing the magistrate for this decision.

These people are nuts.

And it gets worse. The first link on the links page of the South Dakota organization* leads us to the wellspring of this movement:, founded Ron Branson of California. Let's learn a little bit more about Ron:

Born in 1946, Ronald Branson joined the U.S. Military in 1963. He had a very strict and straight-laced view of "just doing his job." Part of his military time was spent as a Prison Chaser over prisoners at Fort Belvoir. VA. He presided over work details and regularly strip-searched the prisoners. He quickly gained the respect of his superiors, and took on the reputation as the strictest Prison Chaser within the prison compound, having disciplined more prisoners than all other Prison Chasers collectively.


After his honorable discharge from the military, Ron entered Washington Bible College, and later graduated from two Bible Institutes, one in Wisconsin and the other in Los Angeles.... He was ordained into the ministry in 1977 and pastored several churches. He began to realize that the biggest cult and threat to the churches was government....

In 1980 Mr. Branson was called upon to travel with and meet appointments by the late A. J. Porth, the patriarch of the modern-day patriot movement, as his right-hand man. In 1992, Ron became co-founder of the Granada Forum, which held it meetings in Tarzana, California....

OK, let's stop there.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has some information on A. J. Porth:

... a building contractor from Wichita, Kansas, named Arthur Julius Porth scribbled "I plead the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States" across his Form 1040 and sent it to the IRS.

Opposition to the federal income tax predates Porth's 1961 rebellion, but his one-man act of defiance inspired a legion of activists, helped spark a national "Tax Strike" movement in the two decades that followed and laid the groundwork for today's generation of militant tax protesters....

Like present-day tax resisters, A.J. Porth gave plenty of reasons for breaking the law, including the notion that the 16th Amendment was unconstitutional and "put Americans into economic bondage to the international bankers" -- a thinly veiled anti-Semitic reference to the supposed "international Jewish banking conspiracy." ...

Reasoning like this led to Porth's 1967 conviction for violating federal tax laws, and he was sentenced to five years in prison.

...Among those who campaigned for Porth's freedom was William Potter Gale, who would become the founder of the Posse Comitatus in 1971. Gale used the newsletter of his California-based Ministry of Christ Church -- a church espousing the racist and anti-Semitic theology of Christian Identity -- to promote Porth and the early tax rebellion movement....

We can learn a little bit about Ron Branson's Granada Forum from a 1999 LA Weekly article:

"We are leaderless," says "Anne," the leader of the Granada Forum, when I arrive at the group's Thursday meeting. "We are like a big town meeting with no political affiliation."

... The ... woman goes on to speak about the unconstitutionality of birth certificates and ID numbers. "A birth certificate is a government certificate of human ownership," she charges, adding that the document is "valued at $630,000." ...

Don Kreigel, head of Citizens for Safe Drinking Water, rises to speak about the dangers of fluoride, and an upcoming protest march. "We expect a hundred people," he says. "It'll be a huge demonstration." Kreigel also passes out copies of the Impeachment Roll Call and recounts his recent journey to Area 51 and a subsequent UFO sighting....

There's more at the link, not all what you'd expect (a former LAPD detective, for instance, claims there is a 1985 DEA videotape of George W. Bush and brother Jeb buying 2 kilograms of coke in Miami). Granada has also given a forum to the likes of Texe Marrs, whose "Discernment Ministry"

features the Power of Biblical Prophecies comparing globalization in both religion and the political arena [and] exposes the Pope's goals and the spiritual deception of the New World Order.

There's also Joyce Riley, a retired Army flight nurse who

presented damning Department of Defense classified "Secret"documentation to an audience at the Granada Forum in Tarzana, CA on July 1, 1999 which supported the contention that the military intentionally innoculated Gulf War troops with the pathogens that eventually caused Gulf War Illness as part of an insideous program directed by the CIA called MK Ultra.

(Oh, and according to Granada's not-regularly-updated Web site, David Horowitz has also addressed the group.)

I don't think the South Dakota bill stands a chance -- I hope it doesn't. But it's a sign that the kooks want to come in from the cold, and will, given half a chance.


*UPDATE, 3/17/06: The Jail4Judges link no longer seems to be on the South Dakota Judicial Accountability links page, but Jail4Judges still loves the South Dakota group.

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