Thursday, June 20, 2013

Anarchy, Activism and Assholes - Finding Common Ground.


Hey, it's been a while. It's been difficult scraping up a reason to write, and a lot of that has had to do with the sense that I'd been repeating myself. A lot. Over and over and over.

And yet, I can't stop. If it's not here, well, I'm off whacking moles on Reddit. Yes, I am an Redditor. It kind of snuck up on me.

Anyhoo, one of those reddit bounce-abouts - from front page to article to comment thread to embedded link - led me to a page where this was in the sidebar. Well, something like that.

 It has been my experience that many rebellious young people labeled with psychiatric disorders and substance abuse don’t reject all authorities, simply those they’ve assessed to be illegitimate ones, which just happens to be a great deal of society’s authorities. Often, these young people are craving a relationship with mutual respect in which they can receive help navigating the authoritarian society around them.

Bruce E. Levine

Alternet has been publishing unusual perspectives on issues that are - well, this one would be familiar to people from various interest groups. The idea that males, particularly are being diagnosed with the mental deficit of having testicles is pretty common over on the right wing, and from the leftist viewpoint, authoritarian structures are oppressing individual self-expression. But both sides view this as being a problem with the structures created by proper authorities - not any deficit in the quality of authority on offer. I think that's an important point - and it's one I haven't run across much even in Libertarian circles.

Those are the sorts of unusual perspectives you wish to seek out. But that one paragraph is the part I wish to hang my article upon - I suggest you read his piece fully in it's own right. There's lots more and it's stated in a sort of leftist / academic cant that tends to put my teeth on edge. But it's still accessible and I'm glad I didn't let that deter me. I've come to realize this is kind of like having to wait for a Southerner to get to the point. It really doesn't mean they are bound to be saying something that will confirm your preconceptions about Southerners - and by the same token, I really don't respect people who learn to hide their regional or intellectual accents in order to more easily appeal to my comfortable preconceptions. Such folks tend to be the ones I have learned to worry about the most. Indeed, that's pretty much the point to this post.

Expertise matters. And we need to be able to evaluate it honestly without it feeling uncomfortable or unusual.

Being who he is - a mental health professional - and an Anarchist; my, what an unusual combination, because it runs counter to what the mental health community does. The ability to conform to social expectations is considered evidence of someone in a state of balanced mental health. It's actually a useful perspective and certainly needs to be part of the counseling given since being able to function within society is pretty much what sanity is all about. But at the same time, society tolerates pockets of unacknowledged batshit crazy. We need people who are capable of and willing to not put up with stupid shit just for the sake of "going along to get along," fitting in or "furthering the larger goals of the Struggle."

I will cop to being an anti-authoritarian, but that is in large part due to being a poster child for the point the author makes above. As I've often said; "Question Authority, wait a reasonable time for a sensible answer." A lack of sensible answers, or answers that you already know to be completely wrong means that that is an untrustworthy authority.

We need, as a culture and as a people to be ok with that idea that having authority - being in a position of power - obligates that person to use that power and that trust wisely and well. We should all be a little reluctant to have power thrust upon us and a little less comfort with donating ours without due diligence. Because that trust is commonly abused and those who donate power tend to be treated with contempt by those who got it with too few strings.

Nor is this a political idea. The source above and the source below think so - but that's because of their own contexts and backgrounds. They think in political terms because they are political activists so that's where they have seen this stuff. But you can find it everywhere. "Lo, where three or more are gathered together, politics will be with thee."

He's casting this as a potential political awakening. Well, I suppose you could look at it that way - but frankly, other than pointing out there are lots of people that do not reflexively tug the forelock to the guy (yes, it's usually a guy, and he's usually white, get over it) in the corner office with the imported rosewood desk, we also need to call horseshit on the idea that requiring an authority to have demonstrable, USEFUL insight is "political." It needs to come up before the vision statement and the call to action.

All too often, people join movements and organizations, assume the cloak of religious belief or espouse certain philosophical viewpoints in order to get what they want - power, wealth, the sort of sexual partners / victims they prefer or less toxically, the company of people they find otherwise agreeable to be around. And everything they say and do is to feed those needs.

Worse yet, it's often completely unconscious. Or as my father told me about the art of salesmanship; "In order to sell a product, you must believe in it. So you have to lie to yourself first."

That was one of the things that caused me to start roundfiling my father's advice even before considering it. And this made me, of course, dangerously un-responsive to proper guidance, bringing me into contact with quite... useless ... mental heath care at an early age.

It wasn't that I was unwilling to listen respectfully to good advice - but I'd learned that taking parental advice about how to deal with social situations tended to get me beat up even more often than simply ignoring it when I already knew the outcome.

It should be ok to call bullshit on your elders when they utter bullshit even if you are at your best within an socially conservative hierarchy. And here's where I part with my libertarian fellows - some people really suck at autonomy. Indeed, most of us suck at it more than we would care to admit. Generally we work around this with a little help from parents, friends and colleagues, while we all cheerfully pretend that it's an exchange of favors and conveniences - not stark necessities. But they are, and those who do not face that in themselves risk being featured on Cops, Hoarders or Intervention.

If you don't believe me, ask my wife.

Bullshit detection needs to be seen as valuable. This is the value of the leftist call: "Check your privilege!" Now, it's all too often used to shut people down - but then, it's a sharp tool. Sharp tools have a tendency to be used for bad things. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have them in your drawer, or fail to use them as intended.

It means to take a look at to what degree your frame of reference is influencing what you are doing and saying - particularly when you are acting or advocating in ways that impact others. It's really a favor because if you are blissfully unaware of privilege, you will make very bad policy which will tend to make whatever you were trying to fix far worse.

If people did that more - checked their own bullshit and checked the bullshit of othes - well, the Republican Party in particular and the Social Conservative and Religious Conservative movements worldwide would not have fallen prey to so many manipulative sociopaths; people skilled at saying the right words at the right time to gain support, or at least, a lack of active opposition.

Does the phrase "Compassionate Conservatism" ring a bell? Or how about the economic promises of Neo Conservatism? It amounted to "trust us, once the rich get much richer, they will inevitably share the wealth."

But it did sound reasonable. It certainly seemed sincere at the time. And nobody - or at least, far to few, questioned these authorities.

And yes, it happens on the Left, too. Here's another really great article - again, from the left; that's where I've been today.

Why Misogynists Make Great Informants: How Gender Violence on the Left Enables State Violence in Radical Movements

On Democracy Now! Malik Rahim, former Black Panther and cofounder of Common Ground in New Orleans, spoke about how devastated he was by Darby’s revelation that he was an FBI informant. Several times he stated that his heart had been broken. He especially lamented all of the “young ladies” who left Common Ground as a result of Darby’s domineering, aggressive style of organizing. And when those “young ladies” complained? Well, their concerns likely fell on sympathetic but ultimately unresponsive ears—everything may have been true, and after the fact everyone admits how disruptive Darby was, quick to suggest violent, ill-conceived direct-action schemes that endangered everyone he worked with. There were even claims of Darby sexually assaulting female organizers at Common Ground and in general being dismissive of women working in the organization. [2] Darby created conflict in all of the organizations he worked with, yet people were hesitant to hold him accountable because of his history and reputation as an organizer and his “dedication” to “the work.” People continued to defend him until he outed himself as an FBI informant. Even Rahim, for all of his guilt and angst, chose to leave Darby in charge of Common Ground although every time there was conflict in the organization it seemed to involve Darby.
The piece was originally published in make/shift magazine’s Spring/Summer 2010 issue and written by Courtney Desiree Morris.

The article as a whole speaks of how and why leftist activist movements have gotten sidetracked by drama and have generally failed to realize their ambitions over the last several decades. They are easily distracted, easily infiltrated and perhaps over-tolerant of bad behavior, a little too accepting of 'woundedness' as being the price of oppression.

Goddess knows, it's true enough! Frankly, I find those who don't carry a few scars to be deeply uninteresting - but at the same time, you have to own your own shit and take responsibility for it. And what's the point of life if you don't?

People put up with far too much bullshit in order to further the goals they believe in, not realizing that in doing so, they actually undermine those goals and contribute to the end of the movement.

Time and again heterosexual men in radical movements have been allowed to assert their privilege and subordinate others. Despite all that we say to the contrary, the fact is that radical social movements and organizations in the United States have refused to seriously address gender violence [1] as a threat to the survival of our struggles. We’ve treated misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism as lesser evils—secondary issues—that will eventually take care of themselves or fade into the background once the “real” issues—racism, the police, class inequality, U.S. wars of aggression—are resolved. There are serious consequences for choosing ignorance. Misogyny and homophobia are central to the reproduction of violence in radical activist communities. Scratch a misogynist and you’ll find a homophobe. Scratch a little deeper and you might find the makings of a future informant (or someone who just destabilizes movements like informants do).
Maybe she doesn't see it, maybe she needs to check her own frame of reference or the critical theory she's applying, but it seems to me that Misogyny, homophobia, racism, oppression and abuse are the roots from which the abuses of power, like police, structural inequality and wars of aggression against brown people arise. And it's a hell of a lot easier to redirect a stream when you start at the source.

Now, the thing that struck me about this article was that if you were to rewrite it in politically neutral language, we would all recognize it from personal experience. From the high-school prom committee. From that bruising time in Student Government that blunted your idealism. From the Al-Anon group. From working in IT in a major corporation. From within the Pride movement. From within the Evangelical movement. From within the Tea Party. From within Catholic religious communities. Yes, within the Men's Rights movement. Absolutely within the Second Amendment community.

People commonly put their own agendas and their own neuroses ahead of the interests of the group and you absolutely do see most members of those communities going through all kinds of contortions to explain or excuse that behavior.

Stop that! Call them to account or just walk away. If you don't, it will all end in tears anyway, so why put it off?

Calling people to account actually works, believe it or not. So try it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

So, Alaska is in the news again...

I'm still largely ignoring political stories but I haven't cancelled my email subs, and this story landed in my email inbox via truthout.
Bill Fulton, undercover FBI informant in the “Alaska Militia Trial,” gave a lengthy interview to The Mudflats about his role in the case, and his controversial life in Anchorage before it was revealed. In this article, he shares his candid opinion about local Anchorage media, national progressive media, Joe Miller, and what they got wrong. Yours truly didn’t even escape entirely unscathed. 
This was republished from The Mudflats with credit but no link. So read it here. Credit where it's due and I'm annoyed that I had to I had to google to find it. In a story like this, the real story is to be found in the comments and between the lines, if it's to be found at all.

You probably remember Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats. That - and the fact that Truthout picked up the story - told me that there would be amusements to be had. Indeed, The Huffington Post has been on the case.  Reporting with 30% less smug condensation than I would have expected:
The Huffington Post reported last week on Bill Fulton, the FBI informant who helped the feds bring down extremist militia leader Schaeffer Cox. At the time he was working as an informant, Fulton was also providing security for Miller's 2010 Senate campaign. During one high-profile incident, Fulton handcuffed a journalist trying to ask Miller questions.
In an interview Monday with the Los Angeles Times, Miller said the handcuffing incident was “absolutely” detrimental to his campaign and “utilized as a political weapon against us in the state.”
Miller told the L.A. Times he was troubled that Fulton, who told HuffPost that he is personally fiscally conservative but socially liberal, injected controversy into his campaign. He pointed out that a separate FBI investigation into the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) cost him reelection in 2008 even though charges were ultimately dropped by the Justice Department in 2009 when prosecutors failed to turn over potentially exculpatory evidence.
“This is the second U.S. Senate race in Alaska that the FBI has had some involvement in,” Miller told the L.A. Times. “I’m certainly not expressing any type of conspiracy theory about the FBI causing any kind of trouble to my campaign, but it’s conceptually troubling to me that you have a paid informant working on multiple campaigns answering to the FBI, being debriefed by the FBI, and I really think it’s incumbent on that agency to come clean about the scope of this individual’s employment and the level of involvement the FBI had in that.”
No, really. It's conceptually troubling that someone beholden to the conservative establishment under Ted Stevens might actually have been "debriefed" about "The Corrupt Bastards Club."

Then after that, having fallen into the political orbit of someone who was not at all shy about "talking smack" about being a "sovereign citizen." That's not the gubbment pickin' on you, son. That's a lack of situational awareness, although the most important question is unasked and unanswered. I would phrase it, myself, something like this: "Where do you FIND these people?"

His tortured statement lends support to accusations of paranoia others allege. Anyway, it is suddenly News, and we turn to local sources to see what sense, if any, can be made of it. Jeanne Devon of the Mudflats comes out as the star here - for doing something actual journalists do, go out and talk to the primary sources.

The Mudflats (and the other Alaskan blogs) provided invaluable context and background to the whole Sarah Palin story, back in the day. That is to say, the Sarah Palin Crowd still probably want to club Jeanne Devon like a seal. So it may or may not be helpful that Jeanne did this, as opposed to someone with a more neutral point of view.  Remember that She (and others) dug up dirt that the McCain Campaign really should have known about, and took a lot of crap for it. Even then, though, the whole connection between Palin, extremist religious militants and various armed nutcases was clearly a clusterfuck waiting to happen.  I was bemused why the Alaska left didn't hit this nail harder.

But now I understand better; it's in the service of not alarming the mostly-harmless crazy fellow-travelers that you have to do business with and cannot afford to offend too viscerally, lest they become not-at-all-harmless. And that is really what this story is all about. The parts in between the parts that seem like news.

I recall thinking that Alaskan politics reminded me of a Jr. High Student Body election crossed with a knife fight in a dark closet. Now, my approach to politics is not that of someone interested in it, but as one who considers it a disease that, while uncomfortable, provides an immunity against more deadly plagues. And of course, it gives me an harmless outlet for my insufferable tendency to over-share my entirely reasonable views.

The political process tends to distract the distractable and give opportunities for people to discredit themselves before they are in a position to do anything terribly dangerous. They spend money on elections instead of inssurections - and this is a GOOD thing. Even when it's Citizens United amounts.

Compare how politics works in a place like Syria or Egypt and you may begin to understand why Churchill referred to it as the worst possible system - except for all the others. Politicians in the United States are not commonly assassinated and don't find it prudent to retire to places lacking extradition treaties in the normal course of events.

But it's not a perfect system. As they say in The Tubes of The Interwebs, Hilarity Commenced.

This hairball seems to have all started when Bill Fulton, surplus dealer and alaskan Version of Dog The Bounty Hunter encountered some folks who seemed just a little crazy by his standards. And you know, when your entire business plan revolves around selling camo gear and and "survival equipment" to people who have come to Alaska because - well, because it's prudent - he probably has a broad tolerance for crazy talk. Being a swinging dick is just .... part of life, places like that. And if you do the stuff he does, it's not a good thing to be mild-mannered and nonconfrontational. Nope, Bill is a Charactor, in a tragicomic story with a Cast of Thousands.

Just to get along in a small town on the cold and lonely edge of America you might tend to charitably overlook the fine line between talking smack and the people who believe the smack they talk. Hell, there's no way to know and no good reason to really want to be sure about it. Most people prefer to think that such talk is just that - talk. Most times they are right, too. In a really small town, you really have to think about the implications of Doing Something - because who the hell is going to unlock the gas pump tomorrow?

Anchorage isn't exactly a small town - but it's not exactly cosmopolitan, either. And the people involved command influences that make the analogy valid. And remember, Fulton's lilihood relied on such folks being comfortable doing business with him.  When gun culture and testosterone is the sum of your business plan, you will hear a lot more "smack" than most folks and probably take it even less seriously on the whole.

And that's how the story started to unfold, in the very small and diffuse town that Alaska seems to be in a political sense. Because someone talked some smack that Bill Fulton felt he had to take seriously.

Bill Fulton, a guy who's life revolved around being the go-to swinging dick; did security work, he did fugitive and bail bond work, and he sold guns and things to people who needed them, or thought they did. And then sometimes he took his crew out into the woods and rounded up a few of the fugitives that make owning a weapon or seven seem prudent. And it seems that he was of a prominence that involved him in local conservative politics regardless of his own libertarian/Independant views. There, as everywhere, you can't untangle gun-culture and tea-party politics and as my father used to say, "you gotta go along to get along." Personally, I prefer "Don't FUCK with the money!" When your business is at the mercy of ten thousand laws and regulations, it makes sense to get to know the people who think themselves qualified to write them.

When then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was plotting a move against the Republican Party chief at the state convention in 2008, Fulton was there strategizing over whiskey and cigars with Palin staffer Frank Bailey and Joe Miller, who later made a well-publicized run for the U.S. Senate as a tea party conservative.
 That was the meeting where Fulton was introduced to Schaeffer Cox, an up-and-coming young firebrand of the far right who was running for the state Legislature and had, as it turned out, plans that went well beyond upending the Republican Party in Alaska.

But let's just say that at this remove, there wasn't a hell of a lot of percentage in pissing off the larger portion of his likely client base... unless they started talking in truly alarming ways.  There doesn't seem to be an explanation of what that was, exactly; the scary stuff he does speak of is mentioned as occurring after he became an informant.

Well, I'm sure that nugget will be in his upcoming book. I'll bet money someone is going to turn it into a movie. I'm hoping it's Quentin Tarantino.  Because we got us a badass here! And I mean that affectionately.

Some talk about upholding the Constitution and taking oaths, whatever you might care to say about Fulton, he seems to take his oath seriously. You know, that, "All enemies, foreign and domestic?" That part. And he did pay a price for his sense of duty.

It never seems to have occurred to anyone that he was anything other than a gun-totin', Palin-votin', Second-Amendment quotin' professional hippie-puncher. Rachael Maddow even called him a Nazi on MSNBC! That's some street cred right there! At the time, it gladdened his heart, for there's nothing that gets you into the good graces of the lunatic fringe than being Disapproved of by the First Feminazi of the Liberal Establishment.

And so, secure in the bosom of the terrorists, the sausage-making that is both politics and practical law enforcement ground on. I do want to remind you of the outcome:
Cox, 28, was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison for heading a militia that plotted to kill judges and other government employees and conspired to accumulate the firepower needed to do it from Fulton. And Fulton, who became one of two key informants the FBI used to gather evidence against Cox and his cohorts, went from being the Alaska Peacemakers Militia's "supply sergeant" to its most celebrated snitch.
Now, say what you like about the history of the FBI and it's distressing record of concentrating on political threats at the expense of what an external observer such as myself would think of as an actual threat. There isn't actually as sharp a line between the two as one might hope - and the FBI really does have to consider the problems that might ensue if a corrupt, violent fringe movement actually took over a state, county or local government.

There ARE people who speak of that As A Good Thing, and there have been cases where it's happened, more or less. I'm thinking of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and I'm thinking of Huey Long; there was of course the whole infiltration of the KKK during the whole civil rights movement; and I'm sure I could think of others. Some would be on the left, some would be on the right, all  are about knocking over established apple carts. That's what the FBI concerns itself with - people who wish to destabilize the government.

So it's hard to argue with a straight face that this is something that the FBI should not take an interest in. Particularly when they say things like this:

Cox had been accused of assaulting his wife, and worried that state authorities were trying to take his son away. He talked about Fulton serving what he called common-law warrants on the officials he thought were out to get him.
"He said these guys need to be arrested and brought to trial," Fulton recalled. "I said, 'What are you going to do with them?' He said, 'We'll either fine them, or we'll hang them.'"
Cox and company discussed how they were going to go to the homes of selected enemies, cut the electricity to the house, and make enough noise to lure their main target onto the front porch, where he could be shot. Then the windows and doors would be boarded up, and the house, with the rest of the family inside, would be set on fire. "Collateral damage" is the way Fulton said they described it. 
Cox, was seriously part of Alaskan politics; not some nobody on a remote mountaintop.

It's as if they find it rude or indelicate to mention that a rising star in the Conservative firmament is now a convicted domestic terrorist. But it can be awkward to have remind people of the difference between Colourful and Certifiable. Everybody knows everybody - and there are people who think that fucknuts is a perfectly defensible political philosophy.

So, the issue of the day is "The Hopfinger Incident."

Fulton was doing security for a Joe Miller event and ended up arresting a local blogger. The story degenerates at that point, but it appears that there was some jerk-on-jerk action, with each side saying with some justification that being a jerk was part of their respective jobs.

We also learn that the arrest (for assault and trespassing) was (a) a clean bust in a purely legal sense and (b) too damn trivial to pursue past the actual "sit in a corner and be GOOD for 20 minutes" outcome.

It seems that Hopfinger may well have pushed someone - or at least  said he did until he started saying he didn't. Others are claiming it all a plot. Some allege he was drunk. Me, I think he went in strong, hoping to nail a good quote by sheer surprise and so did Fulton, on the principle of crowd control; Stop the loud and aggressive, and there won't be a damn stampede.

It's being spun by the right wing blog, Alaska Pride as having been an FBI plot to derail the Miller campaign.

Now, I'm not sure of the slant on the Alaska Dispatch because they are taking the whole thing so damn personally. A Serious Journalist Was Manhandled! While in the course of his duty! Goodness! That hardly ever happens.

A journalist who couldn't be bothered to carry credentials and was using a flip-cam instead of something an actual journalist might be expected to in order to let Security know they shouldn't casually bounce you off the floor. Apparently he expected to be Recognized without the usual tribal identifications - because everybody knows everybody. Well, apparently that's not always true.

My sense is that he was indeed recognized for what he was, if not for who, and that's why he got bounced and cuffed. Reporter failed to notice there was Security, Security did not consider that the shouty guy with a toy videocamera might be Legitimate Journalist from A Serious Publication. Once the mutual misunderstanding passed, well, there was already paperwork.

Looked at objectively, I think you could assume that both were padding their credentials a little in their respective roles, and that probably led to a situation that might have been entirely avoided in a place as sophisticated as, say Amarillo or Phoenix. But then, that's the sense I get about Alaska in general. It reminds me of a community theatre production of Shakespeare.

But at the end of the day, each did their jobs and it all worked out in the end. No harm, no foul, right? Well, here's Craig Medred, Esquire, Editor of the Very Serious News Source, The Alaska Dispatch on that!
Fulton's problem is that he is a guy with delusions of grandeur. But don't take my word for it, take his. Again as told to the LA Times:
"Fulton said it did cross his mind after the fact that the very public confrontation with the journalist 'was actually good for us operationally,' in terms of the FBI investigation."
Good for "us?" "Operationally." Can you say, "FBI wannabe?"
It's pretty clear now Fulton took Hopfinger down to attract publicity. Murphy has been good enough to help Fulton get it by providing a platform for him to spin it nationally as to how he was the good guy in the white hat pursuing dangerous miltiaman Schaeffer Cox, an Alaska blowhard if ever there was one. Cox talked about killing Alaska judges, law enforcement officers, and politicians. He'll spend a good part of the rest of his life in prison for it.
I wish the authorities were as thorough about prosecuting the people who said they'd like to kill me, including a state trooper or two if their coworkers were to have been believed back in the day. This state is full of people who talk smack. It's talk. But in that regard, you've got to say one thing for Drop Zone Bill.
He didn't just talk. He put people in prison, and he sunk a Senate campaign while the FBI stood on and watched. Miller, whom I've been trying to talk to about this incident for two years (He erroneously thinks I'm a lefty and doesn't realize I'm just some pain-in-the-ass, old-school journalist who gets fixated on trying to find the truth) seems to be finally, at last, figuring out what happened.

Don't be silly. I'll never claim publicly to be "an old school journalist" because my two-year degree in journalism and a stint at an advertising fishwrapper barely counts as school. I also learned along the way - the hard way that it's best to keep personal butthurt out of my editorials. If that's "old school journalism," then he must be referring to the era between the great wars, when every town with two horses had three newspapers - each one owned or directed by a political faction.

I also learned that I should never assume malice when stupidity is a sufficient explanation.

I can easily derive, that if my own reporter was an intimate part of the stupidity, that I should just shut up, because if the event WAS staged by the FBI, if it was not just chance and ill-luck, if you wanted it to actually WORK, all Mission Impossible style - Hopfinger would have to be part of it... and so would Medred.

That would not be something I would wish to have crossing the minds of my tea-tardy blogging colleagues.

I find myself disappointed in the conspiracy theorists who have overlooked that point - but straining at gnats and swallowing camels is part of the mindset.

If you stage an incident, you don't just hope someone is going to make a scene. You make sure of it, and you control the narrative about it for exactly the same reasons that would apply to Fulton being part of the "conspiracy" to "derail" Miller's campaign.

When you "run an operation" or plan an event, or go into court or diagram a football play - you do not leave large elements of chance at the very heart of the plot. Is Hopfinger really such a predictable idiot that you could just plan to be there, knowing there would be a scene? Even if that were actually true, isn't that the sort of thing a campaign is supposed to handle?

There were incidents like that all the time with both Bush campaigns and it never caused Bush the slightest problem with anyone likely to vote for Bush. That is because the professionals handled it professionally. If this "derailed" the campaign, I think it a stretch to claim it had rails to begin with.

Now, was the FBI concerned about Miller's involvement with "People who talk smack?" I would think that would be something a domestic counter-intelligence and counter-terrorist agency would discreetly look into, yes. If history is any guide and the examples of files on public figures are any example, yes, they would definitely want to know a lot about Miller. But I always thought their style was to dig dirt and use it for leverage. Not much point in that if he doesn't win the election.

I'd read this as him being tried and found wanting; neither a credible threat nor a useful tool.

But if there was an agenda on the part of the FBI, the one I would bet on would be hopes for a career making domestic terrorism bust that swept in a Senate Candidate. That's something that gets your boy scout ass out of the Anchorage office. Putting Miller in prison along with Schaeffer Cox would have made someone's year, for sure. So I'd be shocked if he wasn't investigated. Let us hearken back to where and when Fulton was introduced to real, actual, convicted domestic terrorists; at a meeting to support Millers ambitions. You'd kind of have to look into Miller.

We need not presume that Miller conspired to support terrorism. Let us just say that he was in the same room, heard the same things that Fulton did, and whatever that was, he did not see a problem. Make of that what you will. Nobody seems to be praising the man's intelligence, it's entirely possible it went right by him.

So, take a deep breath, and pay a little silent homage to the bullet y'all dodged there. Because I seem to recall that a Republican ended up with that seat. "Against all odds."
A conservative Republican who ran on a platform of restoring the nation's political system to one driven by a strict interpretation of the constitutional framework established by the founding fathers, Miller didn't take his loss to incumbent Lisa Murkowski easily. She'd run an unprecedented write-in campaign after losing the primary to Miller, and won.
I sure would not have called that outcome. In any ordinary reality, a write-in-spoiler candidate might cause the anointed Republican to lose to the anointed Democrat.

I am guessing that would be the FBI's presumed agenda here, right? Getting "Obama's Man" in?

No.. no, this was not the sort of thing that comes about because it was planned. I can tell, because everyone involved is some mixture of confused, embarrassed and upset.

In military terms, this is called "A Crossing Engagement" where two forces manage to stumble upon each other in the dark, achieving total mutual surprise.  Yes, it may have worked out to contribute to Fulton's undercover work - but a glorious day of routine would have achieved the same end. The mission here was to  cater to Miller's paranoia, not to risk triggering it.

One commenter at Alaska Dispatch picks the thread of this with a wry insight into what the actual plotting was.

What I read is that he [Fulton] is a political independent. If that's reflected in his registration status, then is he is in the majority of Alaska registered voters whose numbers in the independent parties combined is greater than the Republican or Democratic Party registered voters.
This is also why I believe that Joe Miller is such a whiner, and completely wrong in that he could have won the general over Murkowski. Either he knows and of course won't admit it, or he's clueless which is worse - so many of those votes for him in the primary where from "strategic voters" either displaying their unhappiness with Murkowski(thinking there would be a message sent but no real consequence), or votes for the lesser candidate (Miller) hoping that he would be more beatable by the Democratic candidate in the general election than Murkowski.
I worked this election. People not involved with lots of other voters can speculate all they want, but for people involved in the election with their eyes open, it was very clear that a whole lot of people used their voting rights to gamble. I was disappointed, but then began to find it humorous that this misfire of voting (as it is intended to be) just set Miller off & gave him false hopes. He's paranoid, and not very bright, so everything has just been one conspiracy after another against him - when it never was about him except as a shadow character. Who knew he would use this to launch himself out of the shadows and into a frying pan of his own making.
You just never know when you may contribute collectively to creating a monster of unknown proportions, which is why I am personally against using voting to gamble.

Like most of history and human life stuff happens and you try to make sense of it in retrospect. Being human, you try to portray your involvement as having at least made sense to you at the time, given what you knew then. But there are also times when it's best to walk away with whatever dignity remains and whatever you were able to pick up on the way out the door.


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