The weird grift of "sovereign citizens": where UFOlogy meets antisemitism by way of Cliven Bundy and cat-breeding

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At least they pay their lawyers in cash.



It’s always bizarre to me that we under fund the IRS investigation arm. It just doesn’t even make sense in the idea of ‘the rich get what they want’, given that a lot of people make money from the government making money (contracts, etc).


There is no statute of limitations on fraud.


It’s informative to look at who likes to cut IRS enforcement budgets. Paul Ryan is a friend to tax dodgers.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s from a community that truly believes that it is impossible for a government to spend money wisely and every dollar a government receives will be wasted. In their world it is unethical for someone to pay taxes.


It’s not a politically popular position to support the IRS, even though both parties love spending the money the IRS brings in. Tax collectors even get a bad rap in the Bible.


From the NYT article:

Mr. Morton was sentenced to six years in prison. He’s representing himself on appeal, and in court papers he argued that he’d been “improperly profiled” as a “terrorist sovereign citizen.” On Project Camelot, he’s unrepentant — even sharing a pardon request he said he sent to President Trump.

“It’s because of my work in RADIO and TV INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM that DEEP STATE forces within the D.O.J. put my wife and I in prison for YEARS!” he wrote. Of course, he had a suggestion for how to correct this injustice: donate to his PayPal account.

I’m considering taking bets on total donations he receives and on whether Trump pardons him.


The thought process there is really incredible. “It’s a deep state conspiracy that I’m being sent to jail for not paying my taxes!”

No dude, your head is so far up your own butt that you can no longer tell when something smells like shit.


The entire article is a fascinating read. Morton is the consummate con-man.


It can always get weirder.


“Sovereign Citizens” believe that they can speak certain words or phrases, or point out certain alleged defects in the formalities of their courtrooms (for example, whether or not a flag has gold fringe) and that these act as incantations that neutralize the power of the state.

I’m surprised Morton’s still in court, when all he has to say is an incantation to prevail in his case and send the judge off to paddle his secret Masonic brothers:

Joe Garrelli: Mr. James’s case is in the bag, because I know something the other side doesn’t.

Dave Nelson: What’s that?

Joe Garrelli: That all federal judges are members of an obscure sect of the Freemasons.

Jimmy James: Wait a minute. You’re telling me that our entire case is based on all judges being Masons?

Joe Garrelli: There’s more to it than that. There is a secret word that, when uttered, forces the judge to rule in your favor, then go to a secret location to paddle themselves in a secret ceremony.

Dave Nelson: What is it?

Joe Garrelli: I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

Dave Nelson: All right, but it better be good.


Judge: Mr. James, all you have proven to this court is that you have a box full of junk. Never since The People vs. Junkyard Jones has a box of junk been so thoroughly documented. If I were this young man, I’d countersue you for defamation of character, and generally wasting everyone’s time. What do you have to say in your defense?

[Joe whispers in Mr. James’s ear]

Jimmy James: Tubal Cain.

Judge [abruptly]: The court rules in favor of Mr. James and sentences the defendant to a month in a juvenile ward for psychiatric evaluation. Case dismissed.

[Judge walks out of courtroom, paddle over his shoulder]



Sometimes you’ll see these wackos out and about in the world sporting license plates similar to these: image

The theory, as I understand it, is that people have an inherent human right “to travel” so there is no need for driver’s licenses, registration, etc. There are all kinds of videos on YouTube of these people explaining to the traffic cop who just pulled them over that they aren’t “driving,” because they aren’t engage in commercial activity.


The theory would be slightly less insane if those people weren’t driving on public roads.


They oughta put that in fortune cookies.


I have a couple of long time friends and coworkers that have gone headfirst down the rabbit hole of sovereign insanity, Canadian flavour.

One of them became hostile to taxation as a concept not long after he realized that the $ his father had given him illegally to invest in Bitcoin had become worth millions. Of course he didn’t want to pay taxes on it, because paying tax on free money is blatantly unfair or something.

The other one has been single, alone and angry for about 20 years and has just spent too much time following random threads on the internet. His hostility to taxation and embrace of conspiracy theories has also coincided with a significant legal settlement resulting from a vehicle accident.

I used to argue with them, then resigned myself to just blandly smiling and not agreeing with them. It won’t be much longer, right this second I am procrastinating writing my resignation letter for that job.


I am somewhat amazed that there hasn’t been a business model for more interesting fortune cookies.

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It does seem odd, especially since the rich have legal maneuvers to get out of paying their share. You’d think they’d be the first to beef up enforcement.

For example, they loved “getting tough” on “deadbeats” when they passed laws to weaken the ability of individuals to declare bankruptcy, saddling people with life-long, crippling debt.

With the IRS, perhaps its the Republicans responding to their braying electorate? The electorate is annually reminded of filing with the IRS in mind (so they cave in). But bankruptcies, health care emergencies, etc. occur sporadically, and to “people who deserved it”, so they can pass draconian laws.

Also, presumably, there’s a group of lobbyists who wanted bankruptcy law strengthened (eg, payday lenders). What lobby is there for IRS collections?

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Here’s an example of sovereign citizenship, Northern Ireland style.

Note the peculiar capitalisation and punctuation in the the name of the “sovereign”. This is believed to have immense legal significance.


Ooh, Freemen of the Land!
I love the “without ill-will, vexation, or frivolity.” I think I’ll start signing off my emails with that.


When I lived in Baton Rouge I used to play poker with a guy that considered himself a sovereign citizen. He was an ex-con (drugs), racist, gun-loving, right wing, stoner, redneck that insisted the only reason I believed in evolution was that I had never thought it through (I have a Ph.D. in biology). He also carried a vile of magic water that he would clutch when stressed and the magic healing powers would make him feel better. He was an odd guy, and you should never extrapolate from an N of 1, but his seemingly contradictory mix of craziness seems representative of the group.