"RED ALERT: Deputy A.G. behind 'Fast and Furious' met with President Obama four times during the height of the operation" read the headline to a post in Doug Ross's DirectorBlue blog on Monday. The post then proceeds to weave a narrative suggesting President Obama was repeatedly meeting with a Department of Justice official "keenly aware" of the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious at "the height" of the operation.
Sipsy Steet Irregulars conspiracist Mike Vanderbough, quickly picked up Ross' post, asking "Well, well, well. What do you know about this, Mr. President?" Surely the intrepid journalists at Daily Caller cannot be far behind.
As underwhelming as it is to establish that a series of "meetings" happened without a bit of information about what was discussed, Ross doesn't even get the facts straight on that. A closer look -- scrolling right -- at the White House Visitor Records data Ross is citing strongly suggests he's established nothing more than Grindler's attendance at speeches and events at the White House where between one hundred and several thousand other people were present. Looks like it's to time to cancel the draft impeachment articles.
Ross' big find is that Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler is listed in the White House visitor log records that were recently released as having visited Obama -- "POTUS" -- four times. Grindler received a briefing on the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious and although the documents related to the briefing did not mention the controversial "gun walking" tactics and the Department of Justice has said the briefing did not include "the operational tactics that have since raised concerns" it was enough for Ross to posit that Grindler "was keenly aware of all aspects of Fast and Furious." Ross:
Item 3: Newly released White House Visitor Logs list Grindler as having visited the White House 40 times, but only four times with the President himself. All four meetings with the President occurred over a two-week period, between 7 May 2010 and 19 May 2010.
According to The Los Angeles Times, these dates just so happened to represent the run-up to "the height of [Operation] Fast and Furious":
Ross concludes: "So my question is this: What did President Obama know -- and when did he know it?"
Looking at the complete visitor log entries the whole thing falls apart instantly. The four meetings appear to actually be three visits to attend heavily-reported public or diplomatic events where many, many other people were present.
Attorney General Eric Holder apparently struck a nerve yesterday when he accurately called out the Daily Caller for effectively creating a movement of congressional Republicans seeking his resignation. Both editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson and reporter Matthew Boyle have since done damage control with extremely friendly media outlets, claiming that they are acting legitimately and attacking Holder for his criticism.
Boyle has led the website's reporters in a month-long effort to find Republicans willing to take a free shot at the Obama administration by calling for Holder's resignation, with the stated rationale being the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious. The campaign has led to nearly two dozen articles featuring calls for Holder's resignation from 51 low-level members of Congress, Republican presidential candidates, Sarah Palin, and congressional challengers, among others.
Carlson stopped by Fox & Friends' curvy couch this morning, accusing Holder of being "Nixonian" and saying that "we are not in control of the legislative branch." When co-host Gretchen Carlson asked the Daily Caller editor whether he thought Holder "had that reaction to your reporter because it hasn't been covered as much by the mainstream media," he noted that "our reporter Matt Boyle has written a number of stories on this," but never acknowledged the character of that reporting.
Boyle sounded similar notes in an appearance on NRA Radio (the NRA has called for Holder's resignation). He told host Cam Edwards: "To assume that we're 'behind' the calls for his resignation, I don't know how he can think that. All I'm doing is calling up congressmen and senators and asking them, and then whatever their answer is I print it."
He went on to say that "if he thinks that I have the ability to control what they say and what they don't say, that's unbelievable," adding, "I'd love to know what other conspiracy theories the attorney general can come up with about the media."
Boyle, demonstrating his trademark inability to stick to facts, went on to falsely accuse Holder of previously attacking a Daily Caller article:
From the November 29 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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The Daily Caller's attempt to pass out pitchforks to GOP members of Congress and send them after Attorney General Eric Holder has now been called out by the target himself.
TPM's Ryan J. Reilly reports:
Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday told a reporter with the conservative news website The Daily Caller that the news organization was ginning up calls for him to resign over ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious.
The reporter approached Holder after an event at the White House on the federal government's efforts to combat counterfeit goods.
"You guys need to... you guys need to stop this," TPM heard Holder tell the reporter. "There's not an organic* thing happening, you guys are behind this."
Holder was referencing Daily Caller reporter Matthew Boyle's month-long quest to find relatively low-ranking Republican members of Congress interested in taking a free shot at the Obama administration by calling for Holder's resignation. The putative rationale for these calls is the ATF's failed Operation Fast and Furious; new evidence has been revealed indicating that Holder know about the controversial tactics used in that operation.
You may remember Boyle from his public humiliation over a ludicrously false September report that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to hire "230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new climate change regulations." Boyle's colleagues were reportedly embarrassed by the decision by DC executive editor David Martosko -- who has a long record in conservative political advocacy but none in journalism -- to stand behind Boyle's reporting.
At most publications, a misstep of this magnitude would have consequences. But at the Caller, it's more of a feature than a bug. And so Boyle has apparently spent much of the last month calling around to Republican politicians and asking them whether they think Holder should resign. That's creating a story, not reporting one.
Apparently there are those who find National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's exhortation that there is a "massive Obama conspiracy" in which President Obama is planning to follow up his re-election by somehow eliminating the Second Amendment just a touch too subtle.
In an ad emailed out to the list of WorldNetDaily this afternoon, the good people at USAAmmo explain that President Obama is "secretly conspiring to strip American Citizens of the right to bear arms"... just like Hitler. The sane response to this dastardly conspiracy is, of course, to stock up on military-grade assault weapons and ammunition, which the patriots at USAAmmo have helpful put on sale, presumably in honor of Cyber Monday or the impending dictatorship.
While warning that gun control is "One Election Away!" USAAmmo manages to compare Obama to any number of dictators (see update):
Clicking on the ad redirects readers to a web video posted by the company. The first half features haunting music and images of the various dictators who allegedly "established gun control" and the victims who, "unable to defend themselves, were imprisoned, enslaved, and annihilated." In case, you missed the point, the music swiftly shifts to heavy metal as on-screen text warns viewers that "Governments render their citizens defenseless with GUN CONTROL!" because "The defensless [sic] are subject to enslavement, imprisonment and annihilation."
Declaring that "An unarmed American is a subject... an armed American is a citizen," the website urges viewers to "Get armed at USAAmmo.com," then shows images of the AR- and AK- variants and ammo on sale at the website. The video closes with the cheery/chilling statement, "Get them something they'll love! BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!"
It's not unusual for gun manufacturers, sellers, or advocates to promote firearms sales by fearmongering about impending gun control measures. But this is a little blunt even for them.
The right-wing media and gun lobby effort to convince people U.S. guns aren't arming Mexican cartels didn't seem like it could get less credible after self appointed arms trafficking expert Chuck Norris got into the mix. But then last night, Tom Stilson, a blogger at Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, decided to pen a hit job suggesting the "U.S. government may be primary suppliers of cartel weapons."
The rhetoric Stilson uses at Big Government is in the same vein as other previous attacks against the State Department and Hillary Clinton, all of which are related to the rampant and often conspiratorial attacks related to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) failed Fast and Furious operation (generally aimed at The Department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder).
Stilson's case is almost exclusively built around the basic fact that the U.S. exports guns to the Mexican military and police as well as other Latin American national military forces. These governments have extensive problems with corruption that certainly leads to lost and stolen weapons. Since U.S. arms exports are approved by the State Department, Stilson asserts that the State Department is broadly responsible for arming the cartels and insinuating that it might have been "premeditated."
Beyond expressing generalities about U.S. arms exports and Mexican government corruption, Stilson offers little direct evidence to support his claims. Stilson cites only one unconfirmed report of U.S. arms sales that might have been directed to a cartel front company. This leads him to erroneously suggest that the ATF could confirm all his assertions about Mexico guns if they just released their data. Stilson:
These statistics imply the State and Defense Departments may very well be the top suppliers of small arms to Mexico's drug cartels and not civilians. Only the information obtained from ATF Firearms Traces will tell. However, those records are not public.
Aggregate ATF statistics on U.S. guns recovered in Mexico have in fact been released to the public. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) asked the ATF about U.S. sales to the Mexican military and other Latin American militaries in a letter sent on June 16th. ATF's response stated that the number of traces to either a foreign firearm dealer/importer or a foreign military in those countries was 346 for 2009-2010. This accounts for around 1% of the total firearms successfully traced that could potentially qualify as State Department-approved exports. It's not at all clear what other data he thinks the ATF is withholding, particularly given National Rifle Association-backed legal restrictions preventing public access to most ATF trace data.
Later, Stilson cites the State Department Blue Lantern program that tries to monitor whether exported weapons are being used as intended:
The Blue Lantern Program involves traces performed by the DDTC to ensure exported military weaponry does not end up with an unauthorized nation or organization. For the Americas, 80% of traces where unauthorized end users were identified involved small arms
This citation is practically meaningless in terms of establishing facts about cartel guns. As Stilson admits, the report doesn't have data on Mexico -- only the Americas. In 2009, the program found only 11 cases where there were "indications of diversion or unauthorized retransfer or re-export." We don't know if any of these cases involved small arms or Mexico.
Stilson concludes with a bit of revisionist history:
After the DOJ and the White House knowingly pursued attempts at new gun control legislation, we are left to ask the question; is this just another case of government stupidity or is this something more premeditated?
In reality, Obama hasn't hasn't prioritized gun control legislation at all.
From the November 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Sorry Fox and Friends, in the race to gin up political controversy following the arrest of suspected White House shooter Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Cam and Country was the clear winner. Maybe it's time to send a Fox News talent scout to check out their operation.
Wednesday evening, hours before Fox and Friends attempted to smear the Occupy movement by referring to Ortega-Hernandez as the "Occupy shooter," NRA radio host Cam Edwards was using the White House shooting to attack gun control groups. Not surprisingly neither Fox and Friends or Cam and Company had their facts straight.
Edwards spent the beginning of yesterday's show interviewing PJ Media contributor Bob Owens and asked him about a recent blog post in which Owens reported that Ortega-Hernandez "was suspected of being at Occupy DC."
After complaining about press coverage of an anti-Obama protester that showed up to an August 2009 Obama rally with an AR-15 rifle, Cam suggested that Ortega-Hernandez shows gun control groups are ignoring "left-wing insurrectionists".
EDWARDS: I noticed that even the gun control groups like Violence Policy [Center] and others, they love to talk about the right-wing insurrectionists, but when a guy who has been hanging out at Occupy DC is now accused of taking a shot at the White House, I don't see anything in their timeline about those crazy left-wing insurrectionists.
OWENS: Well, of course not. And being one of the crazy right wing insurrectionists that Media Matters has cited on more than one occasion, I'm not surprised at all. They have a message and a narrative that they have been working on for years and years and they aren't going to let a little thing like a fact get in the way of that narrative.
But there's simply no evidence linking Ortega-Hernandez to Occupy DC. While there were reports that the Secret Service searched the Occupy tents on Monday, the Washington Post reported Wednesday afternoon that investigators "have found no connection between him [Ortega-Hernandez] and the Occupy protesters." Speaking on Fox and Friends, Michelle Malkin offered her thoughts on Ortega-Hernandez saying, "the guy was just completely off his rocker and had nothing to do with any coherent sense of political ideology."
Edwards references the Insurrectionism Timeline that is maintained by the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, not the Violence Policy Center. It's ridiculous to ask them to add Ortega-Hernandez based on Edwards own imagined connection between Ortega-Hernandez and left-wing politics.
As for Owens' inclusion in Media Matters research on violent and insurrectionist rhetoric, we'll let Owens words speak for themselves:
From the November 16 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Yesterday long discredited gun researcher John Lott took to FoxNews.com to push the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act, which the House of Representatives is voting on this afternoon. The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act would force states that issue residents permits to carry concealed guns to accept permits from any other state regardless of how weak the standards used by that state.
Lott's main argument was the idea that forcing states to recognize permits to carry concealed guns from other states was just like states recognizing out of state driver licenses. Generally the idea that permits to carry concealed guns are like driver licenses is absurd. Licensing, insurance, training, enforcement and registration requirements are vastly different for driver licenses and permits to carry concealed guns.
Beyond that broader concern, issues with Lott's comparison include the fact that his description of Philadelphia police chief Charles Ramsey's recent congressional testimony completely misrepresents the facts behind Ramsey's objections to the National Right-Carry Reciprocity Act.
In testimony before the House in September, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey raised two concerns.
First, he gave an example where a Pennsylvania resident with a misdemeanor conviction had been obtained a concealed handgun permit in Florida. However, his example overlooks that because the conviction was quite old, the person could have obtained a Pennsylvania license if he had so chosen.
Commissioner Ramsey also raised a hypothetical case: "How is the Brookfield officer supposed to verify that the Utah permit is real and up-to-date?" The answer is: the same way as for a driver's license -- via computer.
This is an amazingly inaccurate description of the case Ramsey cited. Ramsey cited the case of Marqus Hill, who is currently under indictment for murder after shooting a car burglar 13 times. Lott's assertion that Hill could have gotten a Pennsylvania permit is expressly contradicted by the facts. As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer Hill lost his Pennsylvania permit and an appeal to have his permit restored:
When police stripped Marqus Hill of his permit to carry a gun in Philadelphia after a 2005 confrontation with officers, Hill didn't let that stop him: He just applied for a firearms license from Florida.
Though police said Hill had lost a 2008 appeal to win back his Philadelphia permit and reacted by assaulting a police officer in court, Florida mailed him a gun license last year.
Also Hill pled guilty to disorderly conduct related to his outburst at the hearing in 2008, whereas Lott suggests his only conviction was "quite old."
In the fourth and final part of our series on the surge of right-wing extremist activity in the Flathead Valley region of Montana we look into the recent arrival of anti-government Patriot movement adherents, most notably Chuck Baldwin, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the most important figures in that growing movement.
God told Chuck Baldwin to move to Montana. Specifically, to Kalispell. God did this, according to Baldwin, sometime in the summer of 2010.
For 35 years Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian, had lived and preached in Pensacola, Florida, railing in a syndicated column in recent years about U.N. gun control conspiracy theories, tyranny-minded globalists and FEMA internment camps.
Chuck Baldwin, a leader of the right-wing extremist
Baldwin is now one of the leading figures in the Patriot movement, which has grown explosively since the U.S. economic meltdown and election of President Obama in 2008. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, the number of Patriot groups in the country skyrocketed from 149 in 2008 to 824 in 2010. The SPLC describes such groups as comprised of "people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps, and force the United States into a socialistic 'New World Order.'"
Baldwin first aligned himself formally with the Patriot movement when he ran for Vice President on the far-right, anti-government Constitution Party ticket. After that his rhetoric, both from behind the pulpit and in his prolific writings, became increasingly militant and more concerned with gun rights and battling with globalists than with gay rights and the Rapture, previously his favorite topics.
Then in September 2010, Baldwin abruptly announced that he was pulling up stakes and moving to Kalispell along with his grown children and their spouses and homeschooled offspring.
At the time Baldwin and his brood of 17 resettled, unprecedented numbers of white supremacists were migrating to the region to support the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to establish a whites only homeland in northwest Montana. Baldwin's dire warnings of a looming epic battle between Patriots and "Big-Government globalists" in the U.S. mirrors in key ways longstanding white supremacist predictions of a war against ZOG, or Zionist Occupation Government.
"We believe America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm," Baldwin wrote in a September 2010 column titled, "Why We Are Moving to Montana."
This cataclysm, Baldwin wrote, "...will almost certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots. I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive--at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling (and will continue to call) many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us!"
The third part of our series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement details a series of recent threats made by longtime neo-Nazi organizer Karl Gharst. This section also provides background information on Gharst and other key PLE activists and reports on the Montana Creators, a PLE-allied branch of the neo-Nazi Creativity Movement whose members have repeatedly been spotted in recent months at gun shows near Kalispell, buying firearms while dressed in clothing displaying their group's neo-Nazi insignia.
Neo-Nazi Karl Gharst has declared Media Matters a
Media Matters for America is under indictment for treason to the white race. So is the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League and the Montana Human Rights Network.
This news arrived in a series of bizarre emails sent earlier this year over a six-week period by Karl Gharst, a neo-Nazi organizer who moved to Kalispell, MT as one of the of the most notorious members of the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which encourages white supremacists to form a community in the area. Gharst has a long history of making violent threats.
"I will see justice come to those who lay traps, slander and otherwise persecute good white people for exercising their God given rights," Gharst wrote in his email to Media Matters. "I promise!" Media Matters had previously contacted Gharst for comment on this series.
In the so-called grand jury ruling he emailed to Media Matters in late October, Gharst used arcane language typical of adherents to sovereign citizen ideology, a pseudo-legal system of beliefs, founded upon elaborate conspiracy theories, that is widely popular with members of the antigovernment Patriot movement as well as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Sovereign citizens hold themselves above laws; typically the only legal authority they recognize is their own (illegitimate) common law jury system.
The Gharst email declared Media Matters and the other groups "Jewish criminal organizations" and "illegal operations of whom their intent and demonstrated actions are constitutional violations also violating the sovereignty of Montana by working against and contrary to the lawful and rightful citizens of the SState [sic] of Montana."
Gharst singled out by name and threatened several "agents" of Media Matters, the ACLU and an Alabama-based immigration rights organization, citing their "treason to the white race." "I and my appointed/sworn representatives will do all in my/our power...to ensure that [employees of Media Matters, ACLU and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama] are brought to justice at a time and place of our choosing."
At Mother Jones, iWatchNews reporter Rick Schmitt details the chilling tale of a journalist who got on the wrong side of Buckeye Firearms Association, an Ohio gun rights group closely tied to the National Rifle Association.
Matt Westerhold is the managing editor of the small Ohio daily the Sandusky Register. Westerhold tells Schmitt that after Ohio passed a bill legalizing the concealed carry of firearms, he received numerous requests from readers who wanted to know if their neighbors had applied for carry permits. After three years of such requests, Westerhold began publishing the names and birth dates of permit holders on the paper's website (permit holder data was publicly available at the time).
Gun rights activists were not pleased. Westerhold says that he received numerous death threats, and that Buckeye Firearms responded by publishing a wide variety of personal information about Westerhold, as well as "information on how one might find out which public school Westerhold's 12-year-old daughter attended, which bus she took there, and how a photo of the girl from her school yearbook could probably be found in the local library":
The reaction was fast and furious. "I was getting phone calls from all over the country, hundreds of phone calls," Westerhold says. "There were so many nut jobs. There were so many threats: 'I am going to kill you' and 'You should die slowly'."
Then the Buckeye Firearms Association got involved, Westerhold says, "in a very pro-active way." Using public records, the group posted on its website Westerhold's auto records, a traffic citation, a partial Social Security number, an address for property he owned, and details about his divorce and ex-wife. It also included information on how one might find out which public school Westerhold's 12-year-old daughter attended, which bus she took there, and how a photo of the girl from her school yearbook could probably be found in the local library.
"I never experienced anything like that in my life," Westerhold says. He says he consulted an attorney and took the information to a local prosecutor, who found no grounds to take action.
Buckeye Firearms chairman James Irvine told Schmitt that he "did not publish the information about Westerhold to be vindictive, but rather to show the editor how easily a 'bad guy' might get information on any one of the people on the list that the Sandusky Register had published." That seems like the sort of message that could have been conveyed privately instead.
If Buckeye Firearms' goal was to intimidate a reporter, it worked. Westerhold says he has "never sought to follow up or do anything with the list."
To hear the spokesmen of the National Rifle Association tell it, American gun owners [[rights]] are constantly under siege. In their world, even President Obama's lack of action on gun violence prevention measures indicates that he's on the verge of destroying the Second Amendment. The United Nations is waiting right behind him with plots for gun confiscation. And of course, "jack-booted thugs" are everywhere.
In a lengthy report, the Center for Public Integrity details how gun activists across the country are using similar tactics, creating a cult of victimhood:
Borrowing organizing and advocacy techniques from the civil rights movement, these activists are casting gun owners as victims, denied the right to defend themselves and their families against violence, even as the parameters of that right under the Second Amendment remain far from clear under current Supreme Court precedents.
CPI explains that gun groups have used these talking points to conduct a nationwide campaign to expand access to concealed carry permits:
In just the past three years, 22 states have weakened or eliminated laws regulating the possession of concealed weapons, according to the Legal Community Against Violence, a public-interest law firm in San Francisco that supports more restrictive gun laws.
These measures are easing testing and eligibility requirements for obtaining a permit, opening up new public and private places where people can have concealed weapons, and giving new legal clout to those who use guns to defend themselves.
Many states now give concealed carry permit holders the right to have their guns in parked cars at work -- and some have extended the right to parents picking up their children in school zones. Landlords are being told they can no longer refuse to lease property to someone who owns guns.
The liberalization of concealed carry laws in the states is also helping drive legislation on Capitol Hill for a federal concealed carry law that would require states to recognize each other's permits. The measure, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, is slated for a House vote as early as today.
In this second installment of our four-part series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which seeks to create a homeland for white supremacists in northwest Montana, we gauge the numbers of the PLE movement and examine its origins, strategies, and goals, which include promoting Holocaust denial.
Last month Media Matters e-mailed April Gaede, the spokeswoman for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, to ask whether she considered PLE a racist endeavor.
April Gaede, seen here during a 2005 interview with ABC, is urging
"Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white," she replied. "If a group of Jews wanted to move to an area that had a high concentration of Jews already, would that make them Jewish supremacists? If Blacks choose to associate and work with other Blacks to form a 'black racial community,' is that racist? Apparently only White people cannot work for the advancement of their race, while groups like La Raza are accepted as 'cultural groups.' What if the 14 words said 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for Native American children ' instead of 'We must secure the existence of our race and a future for White children?' Would human rights activists call that racist?"
The "14 words" is a popular white nationalist slogan coined by David Lane, a member of the 1980s right-wing domestic terrorist group The Order. The group committed armed robberies, including a $3.6 million armored car heist, in part to fund the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, whose founder, Richard Butler, called for the mass migration of white supremacists to the northwestern United States after headquartering Aryan Nations in a northern Idaho compound in the 1970s. He branded the concept the Northwest Territorial Imperative. (Aryan Nations was crippled by a Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit in 2000; it has all but disintegrated since Butler's death in 2004.)
The current Flathead Valley-based PLE movement is the latest manifestation of the longstanding dream of white supremacists to carve out their very own piece of America. Gaede and other PLE activists targeted the Flathead Valley for some of the same demographic reasons Butler picked northern Idaho: historically its population is more than 95 percent white and politically conservative with a strong libertarian streak.
"Around here we have a live and let live mentality," says Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher. "That leads to some individuals with fringe beliefs finding refuge in the Flathead Valley."