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Members of the Federal Aggression Response Troop (FART) militia have staged an armed takeover of a federal bird refuge in Oregon. Negotiations are going nowhere. Things may soon come to a head.

I don't pretend to be an expert on the situation. From what I've gathered between more pertinent TV commercials, taking the birds hostage arose out of a dispute regarding how much control the federal government has over public lands.

Ammon Bundy, leader of FART, says …

OK, wait. Let's change the acronym to something a bit less disturbing. How about Federal Law and Tax Undermining Society, or FLATUS?

Everyone knows about the standoff. It's just a matter of waiting to see how it plays out. FLATUS says it's ready if federal troops try anything funny like a "raid." The group will defend itself.

To prove how serious they are, a snow plow and several pickup trucks currently block road access into the refuge. It's guarded by several increasingly hypothermic guys with rifles.

The word "raid" makes it sound like FLATUS expects the FBI to fight fair by sending in a special tactics team, the sort where one guy bellows "Go! Go! Go!" while the rest chop-step in a line and try not to shoot each other in the ass.

But what if the federal government raids FLATUS a bit less fairly? Say it drives an Abrams tank over the snowplow, around to the back of the visitor center, and pokes a 120mm tube into the window of Bundy's HQ?

Assorted militia guys: "Hey! No fair!"

Tank commander: "Party's over."

That would be a real moment of truth. Would FLATUS open fire on the tank? With deer rifles? And maybe a pistol or two? I'm guessing they would have to shoot in order to remain credible. Else why bring guns (and no food) in the first place?

But what kind of person brings a rifle to a tank fight? Allow me to suggest just such a kind: a person who doesn't really believe the government will start shooting in the first place. That and a person who thinks God told him to do it.

Bundy claims he prayed about whether he should take the bird refuge hostage. He even claims to have received an answer.

Oddly, it sounds like the kind of answer an anti-government activist would have hoped for in the first place. Guys like him never hear God say "Stay home and don't do anything stupid." Nope.

"I did exactly what the Lord asked me to do," he said in a YouTube video, which turned out to be drive a thousand miles and capture a visitor center.

It is possible that the Lord told Bundy "Go thou to Oregon." After all, scripture claims God has asked people to do even stranger stuff. But things get confusing when a person's temporal politics are the filter through which a heavenly answer must pass.

Bundy may have heard "Go thou to Oregon" when God was actually saying "Go thou to federal prison" or "and in that day shalt thou be squished by a tank."

Things aren't going to end well in Oregon. The best we can hope for is that nobody will get hurt who didn't go looking for it in the first place.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or