Drama, drama, drama! The loosely organized anti-government radicals who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were hoping to provoke a war with the federal government—but instead they’ve found themselves at war with each other, feuding, fussing, and freezing.

There’s not much to do in this frozen middle of nowhere, surrounded by tundra and, if you’re lucky, a barricaded courthouse. There are no restaurants, no juice bars, the party scene is shit, and—once you’ve sort of gotten the “Let’s stand around with our guns and look cool” thing out of your system—nothing but free time. The militia boys have spent an increasing amount of that free time, according to social media reports, spreading (and debunking) rumors about each other. Will the militiamen (and militia-ladies) be able to keep it together until Uncle Sam comes knocking? Or will the right to bear arms mean nothing in the impending drama-war? Let’s look at the warriors on the front lines.

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Joe Oshaugnessy is a militiaman from Arizona who took a central role in fundraising, recruiting, and promoting the cause in Oregon from his various online accounts. But according to his former friends at the occupied refuge, he took the money and ran to a nearby hotel where he boozed and partied solo while his brothers in (heavy) arms stood out in the cold. All this was described in a tearful Facebook video posted by former comrade Cai Irvin (below, crying), who wept openly on camera after his buddy went AWOL. The video is now deleted, but Raw Story watched it first:

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Oshaugnessy had kept the money he had raised through social media for himself and had spent at least some of it on a drinking binge.

Another militant, Cai Irvin, tearfully announced Oshaungnessy’s departure in a Facebook video.

Ritzheimer did call me — he’s f*cking pissed, he’s mad, he’s upset,” Irvin said. “He told me to tell all of you that Joe Oshaugnessy is a deserter and a coward.”

Irvin added that “It’s like finding out there is no such thing as Santa...Come on, man.”

But Oshaugnessy isn’t going to let this trash talk stand: on Facebook, he described the boozehound allegation as a smear campaign launched against him by those inside the compound.

Caught in the crossfire between leading organizer Jon Ritzheimer and Oshaugnessy is Maureen “Mo” Peltier, a U.S. Army veteran and de facto spokesperson for the Oregon gang. Her side of the story is long, complicated, and basically devoid of syntax:

Ok, so this is gonna suck. Like hard. I didn’t do my homework. I reported what the guys told me from inside and reacted on great concern for anyone raising funds for the men and women inside. But, of not communicating with most outside, they might have allowed for mistakes.

Joe Oshaugnessy, is raising funds. Funds that go towards his organization and any missions they conduct. He openly states to pay for his room as well as some his supporters funds paid for all those pizzas the other night and more.

Wow....many other donations. The fundraiser does not at all stipulate a connection for the wildlife refuge individuals. So, it’s his fundraiser to do what he and his supporters want.

We just talked on the phone. He sounded super cognizant and clear. Before I go into the full understanding as I now have it, and provide you all my pathetic excuses, I want to repeat what I already told Joe, My deepest apologies first and foremost. And to all of those that hold him with the deepest respect. I fucked up. Big.

I would much rather be in this position than continue believing he raised funds directly asking for the men and women on the reserve and drank it away.

Jon Ritzheimer and him are 30 appox miles apart. Joe reiterates, no way is he going inside. He stands with his word, he was not going to participate all along. With further explanation, I can see how there was a misunderstanding. And they gotta work it out when able. Now is not an easy time to figure that out and patch it up.

See, my experiences written were still true, Joe will tell you that. But, once the guys got mad or felt he backed out and Joe was in his place and Jon in his place apart from another, no further communications took place. Joe has continued supporting them in exact fashion as I have online, interviews, blog shows, phone calls, helping those that wish to support or come and dealing with larger groups that are on their way, etc.

Look, bottom line. Yeah, things are tense, naturally. Miscommunication just took place and I made it worse, not pausing from my phone call to my FB wall. It’s removed now.

But I should have stood firm with my first gut feeling when the rumor first hit me, which was, let the boys handle it. They will run into each other. Lol well, they have, but they did not resolve anything, nor talk. And I let myself react without them even having their own face to face.

So, who do you trust. Mistakes will happen.

Elsewhere at the angry bird refuge, cross words have escalated into an actual brawl: The Oregonian says things turned violent when outsiders arrived late last week:

Lewis Arthur, who leads a group called Veterans on Patrol and calls himself an anti-violence patriot, arrived Wednesday afternoon with a small crew.

By Wednesday night, one of Arthur’s three-person crew was in the hospital, his eye blackened from a punch to the face.

According to big-biceped militia organizer Blaine Cooper, Arthur is a tool of the federal government who tried to beat up an old vet and got the ass-kicking he deserved:

Lewis Arthur with two other men came into refuge last night and the 3 of them assaulted a disabled Vietnam Veteran at the gate. They threw him to the ground and cut his hand, and broke his mirror off his truck. Then stormed into the refuge and ganged up on Blaine Cooper and assaulted him, Blaine Defended himself and was able to hold the three off and make them leave the refuge several witness the event. He was not welcome and is not apart of the Operation. But forced his way in anyway he was told not to come because it was a safety issue. I do believe Lewis Is a Paid Provocateur by the Fed’s to divide and destroy.

Cooper also included two dark, blurry photos of some guy’s bloodied arm which signifies violence of some kind, I guess!

But the Oregonian tells another side of the story:

In an interview Thursday, Arthur blamed the injuries on Blaine Cooper, a prominent member of the group of militants who since Saturday have staged a standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The group’s members say they hope to exonerate two area ranchers imprisoned on arson charges and then turn over land on the federally owned refuge to private owners.

Even Mo chimed in, vlog-style, from a hotel room (!):

One scandal no one seems to be talking about? Brian “Fluffy Unicorn” Cavalier.

This tough-talking, heat-packing bodyguard of OG semi-literate militia-instigator Ammon Bundy is a self-described Marine Corps veteran who it turns out was probably never actually in the Marines:

The menacing, 6ft tall bodyguard was also seen flanking Ammon Bundy during a series of press conferences held outside the refuge and has been heavily involved in coordinating security at the compound where the group is holed up.

[...]

When Daily Mail Online confronted Cavalier over his Marine fabrication he seemed nervous and the bravado of previous days vanished.

‘That’s unfortunate that someone would say that,’ he said, refusing to deny the claim.

Will the Oregon patriot clique be able to make it through this cold winter, or will they succumb to petty infighting and a lack of a conditioner? Will Joe and Jon work it out? Does the Property Clause of the Constitution really grant the federal government the authority to exercise total control over land it owns within the borders of sovereign states? Can Lewis and Blaine stop fighting and focus on everything they have in common? And what about Mo?

Illustrations by Image by Jim Cooke, photos via Facebook and YouTube


Contact the author at biddle@gawker.com.
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