And the Outlaw Mind of the State
BY DAVID S. LEWIS
In the Old West, a thin line ran between law and outlaw. Look at Tom Horn, the Pinkerton detective hanged for murder, and Wyatt Earp, a legendary lawman, but also well disposed to pistol whipping suspects about the face and head—with the 12-inch barrel of his Buntline revolver.
The annals of the Old West are, in fact, loaded with outlaws who became lawmen and lawmen who became outlaws. Certain Texas Rangers, for example, worked both sides of the law, and smiling Bob Masterson (brother of Bat Masterson) was a Marshall in Trinidad, Colo., who killed twenty-one men—a lot of killin’ for a peace officer.
Then there was Mysterious Dave Mather, the Dodge City Marshall and friend of Wyatt Earp (Bat Masterson too) whose Dodge City Gang, a crew of gunfighters and gamblers, seized political control of Las Vegas, New Mexico. For money and power, of course.
There’s a long list of such characters—Lame Johnny Donahue, Tom Pickett, John King Fisher, Buckshot Roberts, Ben Burton, Dirty Dave Rudabaugh, and of course Virginia City Montana’s own Henry Plummer. And that’s just scratching the surface of Old West characters who expressed their split personal-ities and penchants for gunplay on both sides of a badge.
Today’s Philly cops, New York City in the Frank Serpico days, and many other police forces and federal agents (CIA drug runners, IRS targeters, NSA eavesdroppers, White House plumbers) have crossed over to the dark side. Livingston, Mont., in the 1970s comes to mind, and, back in the day, the Hi-Line’s complicit prosecutors jailed would-be Montana whistleblowers.
Power, after all, corrupts, and while most public servants remain decent people, anywhere you have governmental power, you eventually have those who seize that power for self-serving goals, and who then become the “lawful” establishment.
So, the outlaw trail leads all the way up the line, revealing that it is not necessarily a split personality at work, but a single-minded person-ality, and that “public service” not infrequently becomes a criminal or quasi criminal enterprise.
While we reject the barstool assertion that all politicians are crooked, one need look no further than myriad recent scandals in state and federal government to see again that either outlaws have sought public office or public office has made outlaws of so-called public servants.
Why do you rob banks?, they asked Willie Sutton — Because that’s where the money is, he replied. Much more money though than any bank holds sits in public coffers, and having control of that money can be lucrative. You wouldn’t have any trouble convincing former Illinois gover-nors now in jail, nor Virginia governor Robert McDonnell (convicted on 11 counts), nor public sector union bosses who feed off public coffers through a corruption scheme kept in place by virtue of the public monies they collect—a vicious circle of taxpayers funding complicit lawmakers.
And Hillary Clinton, she gives new meaning to the term bag lady, having sold favors as Secretary of State for bribes from foreign donors (including Vladimir Putin, so he could acquire American uranium for nuclear weapons).
“Public service” can be profitable, it’s that simple, creating the political machines we see everywhere and that are funded by our confiscated tax dollars. Even locally. If you doubt this, see what happens when you take on public employee raises—masked bandits turn out, disguised as public servants and their unions (also of interest, see story, page 7).
Now, we come to William Krisstofer Wolf, the modern day outlaw set up in an FBI sting last month at a Livingston truck stop (see page 17) after an undercover agent allegedly sold him an illegal weapon.
Wolf has it in for corrupt “public servants.” He speaks of peaceful revolution, but also violent anarchy, and according to the FBI talks about taking out public officials (not on a date). He sees what others see and complain about, right and left, abuses of power. Except Wolf didn’t limit his dissent to bumper stickers, he allegedly bought an automatic shotgun (from the FBI) after threatening to burn down the Gallatin County courthouse.
Wolf had planned to form “Committees of Safety” across Montana, starting in Gallatin County, that would challenge local authorities, and made his intentions known via internet talks. On the heels of the Clive Bundy armed showdown with federal agents in Utah last year, where dozens of armed supporters turned out on horseback to take their stand on Bundy’s behalf against the feds, you can bet Wolf’s call to arms got the attention of the federal government.
Having heard about this outlaw, and his comments, we were surprised to find he comes across rather calm and coherent regarding his frustrations, which resemble the sentiments of so many voicing dissent these days, and then, in his plan to exert force, resembling historical revolutionaries fed up with the status quo: Bill Ayers, Bobby Seale, Samuel Adams, advocates all of violence against government (friend-of-Barack Bill Ayers having held a professorship at the Univer-sity of Illinois, honored for his intent to kill and destroy).
But talk of violence against Gallatin county law officers? That’s just not right (We receive constant reports on their service and rescue efforts). So, local authorities bought a BearCat armored assault vehicle, which Wolf, at a Bozeman City Commission meeting last year, said he was prepared to handle.
Wolf said, also, in his internet talks before his arrest, that he was considering a run for Gallatin County Sheriff, but opted instead to form his Committees of Safety as a means of enforcing justice. Conceivably then, Wolf could have held office, like other outlaws, through the ballot box or as public officials.
It is, after all, a historical tradition. From Vlad Putin, to Montana Copper Kings, to the grifter socio-paths Bill and Hillary Clinton, government attracts criminal minds, and the more power vested in government, the more criminals are incentivized to seize it, and exploit it.
One wonders then why so many today, oblivious to history, seek to empower government, rather than bind it according to our founding principles, which would obviate the need for violent revolutionaries, and give criminals less incentive to hold office. Instead of robbing taxpayers, like Willie Sutton they’d then have to settle for robbing banks.