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Apr. 12 2010 - 11:41 pm | 1,788 views | 3 recommendations | 33 comments

Things that will end badly: State-approved militias

FBI mugshot of Timothy McVeigh.

Image via Wikipedia


Bad idea of the month:

Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.

Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force. They say the unit would not resemble militia groups that have been raided for allegedly plotting attacks on law enforcement officers.

“Is it scary? It sure is,” said tea party leader Al Gerhart of Oklahoma City, who heads an umbrella group of tea party factions called the Oklahoma Constitutional Alliance. “But when do the states stop rolling over for the federal government?”

– via Okla. tea parties and lawmakers envision militia

Great idea, team! I really hope they follow Digby’s advice and call this one McVeigh’s Law.

I would have loved to see Conservative’s response if the left pulled this shit during Bush’s reign. “No, no. Nothing weird is going on here. We’re just forming state militias designed to actively undermine a government we refuse to recognize as legitimate. Carry on.”

I’m guessing it would have taken lawmakers around 30 seconds to declare martial law and roll the tanks down Main Street.

At least all the fine details seem responsibly fleshed out.

Thus far, the discussions have been exploratory. Even the proponents say they don’t know how an armed force would be organized nor how a state-based militia could block federal mandates. Critics also asserted that the force could inflame extremism, and that the National Guard already provides for the state’s military needs.

Well, randomly firing guns at perceived threats like census workers is one way to block a federal mandate, I guess. And yeah, forming militias like the ones the worst domestic terrorist in American history belonged to* may “inflame extremism”.

But since Republican lawmakers are apparently hellbent on refusing to tell their constituents to grow up and accept the fact that they lost a democratic election, forming militias is the only area left to explore.

Most teabaggers identify as conservative. The GOP is now running on a platform of blockading the democratic system, and refuses to acknowledge that a majority of American people elected the Democrats for a reason (namely they wanted a change from Republican leadership), so all that hate and panic need to go somewhere. It needs an outlet.

Waiting a few years to vote for a new president seems like it’s out of the question, so forming militias is the only way to go!

In much the same way that I thought Lynndie England was unfairly scapegoated for what was pretty clearly systemic rot within the military (disseminated via top-down leadership), Tea Party panic is also transparently a symptom of irresponsible leadership within the Republican Party.

If any Oklahoma lawmakers are seriously considering getting behind the idea of militias, then they must be held responsible for the ensuing violence. Of course, these teabaggers could be blowing a lot of smoke, and no one is seriously thinking about adding their name to this ridiculous (but dangerous) legislation. But what we’ve seen thus far from the GOP is that they’re willing to fan the flames of hysteria for the sake of scoring paltry political points, so I put nothing past them.

Some OK Republicans do appear to be testing the waters:

State Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, a Republican candidate for governor who has appealed for tea party support, said supporters of a state militia have talked to him, and that he believes the citizen unit would be authorized under the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

The founding fathers “were not referring to a turkey shoot or a quail hunt. They really weren’t even talking about us having the ability to protect ourselves against each other,” Brogdon said. “The Second Amendment deals directly with the right of an individual to keep and bear arms to protect themselves from an overreaching federal government.”

Right. I’m 99% sure the Founding Fathers weren’t talking about undermining the federal government, either.

Once again, consider if a liberal said this during the Bush years. Would Brogdon have applauded their tenacity and patriotic fervor, or would he have screeched for the anarchist to be locked up?

* While McVeigh admired militias, he never actually got around to joining one, namely because he thought they were “too moderate” (ha, ha). He should have hung around for Hutaree. McVeigh would feel much more at home with today’s militias.


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  1. collapse expand

    Oh, joy. Another “Republicans/Conservatives are evil and out to undermine democracy” article.

    You could at least try some fact-checking before you rant.

    For example, Timothy McVeigh, who you attempt to use as some sort of poster boy for militias, was never in a militia.


    Also, militias have a long history in this country, and the Constitution, which you seem to ignore, supports them.

    Article 1, Section 8 (in part)
    To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union,
    suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

    To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for
    governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United
    States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers,
    and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline
    prescribed by Congress;

    The Founding Fathers preferred militias to standing armies and you should note that they gave the states the authority to form them.

    Oklahoma, which you point out in the article, has the legal right to form a state-controlled militia. In your haste to condemn the act, you seem to have overlooked the best reason for Oklahoma to form the militia. It will be organized and controlled, not randomly formed like most militias (the Michigan Militia, which is not state-controlled, being one such example) and subject to oversight. It won’t be allowed to degenerate into rednecks with shotguns and such, as much as you seem to wish it to be.

    So exactly why are you so against the government actually moving to restrict the militias via legislative acts? I would think that your lieberal leanings would applaud such controls.

    And before you try it, the National Guard is NOT a militia raised by the state. The NG has been a federally-controlled entity since the Militia Act of 1903.

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      well said, ragnar.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      America in the 21st century…looking back to the halcyon days of feudal conflicts over federalism, state militias, and the glory of the Civil War. Just makes a person proud.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      OK, Ragnar- what do you want to form a Militia for? Just askin’. Because I can’t see any legitimate- non-insurrectionary- purpose to such an outfit. Sure, I cam see where you’d want to shuffle the National Guard card out of the deck; fact is, all legitmate servicies that your “organized and controlled” (by whom?) militia proposes to offer are already perfectly well done by the NG. It sure looks like all your militia really functions as is an insurrectionary army, which as you’ve already noted, is unconstitional according to Article I, Section 8. If you want to enter into armed rebellion against the federal government, just man up and say so; knock off this weasel-wording about your bullsh*t constitutional legitimacy.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        I don’t have a “legitimate- non-insurrectionary- purpose” in mind. My point in rebuttal to Kilkenny’s article is that the state of Oklahoma has every right under the Federal and State Constitutions to form a militia. Thats not bullshit as you so kindly worded it; its the constitution.

        The fact is that the state is probably better off passing a law to make its own militia in order to cut off the crazies at the pass. A state-controlled, organized militia will help prevent the very things that Kilkenny rails against. I find it interesting that she ignores this point in her latest “Republicans/Conservatives are evil and out to undermine democracy” article.

        Not surprised she ignored the obivous benefits of state control, though. Her ideology sometimes blinds her to reality.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Said the kettle of the pot.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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          OK. Great. Glad to hear that. I’m going to leave the Constituionality arguments to people more well schooled in them than you or I (I’ve read the document, too, and can click to it as quickly as you can); but I think that your premise is kind of silly- cut the crazies off at the pass by arming, training, and legitimizing them? I’d rather have these people outside the tent pissing in, than inside the tent pissing in. While the NG has been used for politicized purposes, they’re not a political organization- I remember taking the Oath of Enlistment and swearing to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I don’t remember swearing allegiance to any party, ideology, or religion; that is exactly what such a militia will demand- spoken, or unspoken- of their recruits. They will be a state-sanctioned Conservative military unit, without a legitimate purpose, and that is unacceptable. You propose a well-regulated paramilitary, issued standardized weapons and ammo, standardized uniforms, paid for by the OK state budget, in order to disempower them? If that’s your argument, I ain’t buying it.

          As far as being blinded to reality by ideology, you may need to consider the beam in your own eye.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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            We’ll just have to disagree. I live in Georgia and we have a state militia (Georgia Defense Force) that is regulated by the state. They aren’t armed to the teeth, but they are organized, controlled and regulated. You should note that as result of the state regulations, there are few organized militias in Georgia and they are very open in their activities – they have to be because of the law. The crazies – those people willing to join militias – have been essentially defanged by the law.

            Oklahoma, by legislation, can do the same thing Georgia has done; regulate the process so the crazies will be co-opted. They’ll be doing relief work, disaster response and other assorted civic activities, not off marching around with weapons pretending to be in the army.

            I also don’t get how this Oklahoma militia unit would . . . “be a state-sanctioned Conservative military unit,. . .” when they would be responsible to the state government regardless of what party runs the government. Your oath of enlistment is as valid at the national level as one would be at the state level, i.e. not sworn to a party.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
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            ragnar- all due respect, but I guess so. Google searched the Georgia Defense Force; sounds like a NG Auxiliary. Fine, in principle. I remain unsure as to whether that’s what OK has in mind. The timing is really pretty bad, and the talk- “protect themselves from an over-reaching federal government”- is flatly insurrectionary. If someone chooses to oppose the Federal government by force of arms, they can do it on their own time and their own dime.

            In response to another comment. See in context »
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      I should have been more specific with my language. McVeigh had the militia mindset, but never actually signed up for a militia because he thought they were too moderate (ha, ha). He should have hung around for Hutaree.

      He did check out the work of a militia group, the Michigan Militia, but considered them “too moderate,” http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2010/0331/Could-the-Hutaree-militia-have-spawned-a-Timothy-McVeigh.

      I have to agree with some of the other comments. What’s with the obsession with forming a militia? But yes, you have the right to stockpile weapons, food, and otherwise act like a paranoid delusional, but I don’t think your leadership should encourage that bizarre behavior.

      Otherwise, it’s utterly disingenuous for GOP leaders (who have spent months talking about the “taking over America”), to act surprised when an armed militia tries to fight the “enemy”.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      Ragnar in case you haven’t noticed we’re not 13 colonies anymore. We’re a country of 300+M. Your stating of FF preference against a standing army would eliminate a national defense. And if you want to go by the old “what the Founding Fathers wanted”, then abandon modern weaponry and use muskets, because (as you have heard as ad infinitum as others have heard this defense), the Founding Fathers neither had nor envisioned automatic assault weapons and armor-piercing rounds.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    RE:Right. I’m 99% sure the Founding Fathers weren’t talking about undermining the federal government, either.

    Actually, Allison, the founding father were talking about the government underming the Constitution…..now the dirt bags reid, pelosi, obama are plotting to give citizenship and the vote to 30 million illegal aliens…..who are here to take jobs away from you, your kids, and grandkids….

    The Second amendment is there to put the fear of God into government shit bumms like reid, pelosi, obama

    And there are boggers on this very site, such as rick ungar, who cheer every time the shit bumms usurp the Constitution, because they are so partisan, they would tear apart the Constitution, line by line and word by word…

  3. collapse expand

    Good grief, you people are dumber than a bag of hammers. The paranoia is palpable. You look back at some colonial paradise where everyone wore jaunty tricorn hats, carried the family fowling piece, and drilled in the town square in preparation for some imagined attack on liberty or foreign invasion. That time never existed. If it did, it is long past.
    No one is coming to take your beloved guns away. No multi-colored hordes are going to flood the country and take all your hard earned money, debase your religion, degrade health care, water down the educational system, or desecrate the flag.
    Grow the Eff up.

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      Yeah, what tremoluxman said..

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      I don’t think the right-wingers are ever going to believe Obama doesn’t want to take their guns.

      Reason: (http://reason.com/archives/2010/02/15/obama-spurns-gun-control)

      “[Obama] had no intention of pushing those “common-sense” laws he had previously favored. On the list of issues for which Obama is willing to put himself on the line, gun control ranks somewhere below free trade with Uzbekistan.

      So he has proposed nothing in the way of new federal restrictions on firearms. Even the “assault weapons” ban signed by President Clinton—and allowed to expire in 2004—has no visible place on his agenda.

      Not only that, he’s approved changes that should gladden the hearts of gun-rights supporters, a group that includes me. He signed a law permitting guns to be taken into national parks. He signed another allowing guns as checked baggage on Amtrak. He acted to preserve an existing law limiting the use of government information on firearms it has traced.”

      Obama. Does. Not. Want. Your. Guns.

      And there’s no way he’ll face-off against the NRA with all the other shit he has on his plate.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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      “Grow the Eff up.”

      That presumes the guilty parties have the capacity to do so.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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    I recall Bill Clinton killing a goose with a shotgun for a photo op to demonstrate his interpretation of the constitution. Talk about spin!!

    >>>>>Right. I’m 99% sure the Founding Fathers weren’t talking about undermining the federal government, either. >>>>

    OK. Let’s accept your 99% and call it 100%. What then, were the founding fathers talking about?
    This is not a rhetorical question, BTW.

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      They were talking about raising militias INSTEAD of having a standing army, to DEFEND the union, not to undermine it.

      If you want to get all original intent about it, read some history. Then you can get behind forming militias for the explicit purpose of abolishing the US military, saving ourselves $500 billion a year!

      In response to another comment. See in context »
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        So… The constitution is , shall we say “obsolete”, or… shall we say “a living document”<< double-talk ? Liberals are all for the common good (as provided by dominant centralized societal controls) but have nothing to learn from our founding principles. Sounds like a prescription for a politically unstable nation going forward. It's kind of like asking people if they are for doing what is morally right. The answer is invariably: "Yes". The question, "What is morally right?" can produce a plethora of answers, thus the caution of becoming a centrally controlled society.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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          Then, according to you, your take is just as much a pile of hooey as anyone else’s.

          That would certainly explain why it SOUNDS like hooey.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
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          So wait, worrying about the common good without obsessing about the intentions of powdered-wig wearing slave-owners is a recipe for social unrest, but forming red-state-run, well armed conservative militias is good for the nation?

          Speaking of American history, how did the civil war start, anyway? Or world war 2? Would your current ‘militias’ wear brown shirts too?

          And how can you people be so blatantly fascist on one hand, while calling everyone else Nazis on the other? Passing healthcare is a dangerously totalitarian step, but arming the local tea parties isn’t?

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Let’s get behind this idea! Let the knuckleheads in OK and TX rebel against the US military, I’ll make popcorn.

  6. collapse expand

    I think we all how this ends: The militias use street violence and voter intimidation to bring Sarah Palin to power in 2012. After the election, seeking to consolidate the support of business elites and generals, who are threatened by the disorderly populism of the militias she orders a bloody purge of the militia leadership. Fox News later reports that the leaders of the militias were in fact homosexual socialists and applauds Palin’s move to fight illegal immigration by annexing Mexico’s northern border provinces.

  7. collapse expand

    It seems we have deliberat…. I mean, have inadvertently overlooked some key phrases in the Constitutional article quoted. If we read more closely (i.e., actually read), we learn that militias are to be organized, armed, and disciplined…

    “…to execute the laws of the nation….”

    The nation! Now, what’s that? Hm. Isn’t that also known as our country? As in, all of us. As in, the states collectively. The people. Etc.? Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what “nation” means.

    And all this…

    “…in the service of the United States…”

    In the service of the United States, which of course means (see above) the nation. Which we just defined.


    “…according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

    Hmmmm. Congress. I think I heard of them. No, isn’t “Congress” the word the Constitution uses for the federal g… go… gov…. (What’s that word?) Oh, yeah–government. Federal government.

    Hey, we have one of those! So, these militias would be under their discipline. “Their” meaning Congress’/the federal government’s. That’s what it says.

    Did somebody, earlier on, say “state-controlled”? My word. Now, I figure you would just have to get up a teensy-weensy earlier in the morning to pull the wool over the eyes of anyone here who’s awake.

    So, to review: According to our founding document, such militias would operate in the service of the NATION and in accordance with the NATION’S rules and interests.

    And, guess what?? (This is a zinger.) We’ve done got ourselves a bunch of groups which do just that–a U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps., Air Force, and Coast Guard. No, really. I looked them up. Served in one of them, too.

    I wonder if our founders realized that, 200-plus years hence, we’d suffer nuance overload when faced with reading and understanding simple qualifying phrases like “in the service of the United States.” I can picture them saying, “Ah, what the hell,” tossing the document in the stove, and heading for the nearest tavern.

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