Has it been just two-and-a-half months since all the fanfare and hoopla that surrounded the unveiling of the Red White and Blueprint project?
Carlos Zapata, RW&B leader and internet patriot darling, made so many grandiose proclamations; so many promises. But the biggest claim was that the so-called grassroots Recall Shasta effort would be such a resounding success that RW&B (production company/media company created just to document “taking back the county”) would capture it in its slick docuseries. RW&B would package the story, and promote it to other equally eager U.S. counties that would line up to emulate the blueprint. But what exactly is the blueprint? A blueprint is a guide to follow to make something. There’s nothing grassroots about the Red White and Blueprint project. It has all the heartfelt authenticity of artificial turf.
So far, it’s as if the blueprint was created in invisible ink. RW&B is a bizarre concept, a sort of tale-wagging-the-dog project, where the Red White and Blueprint is the star of the show, and the story is made to order. It’s not organic. The Red White and Blueprint is akin to a Winchester Mystery House Dog House, filled to the rafters with a bunch of rabid mutts trying to pass themselves off as pedigreed planners and masterminds.
Zapata promised a total of 10 episodes, and the three released so far are short on substance. Reporter R.V. Scheide has already expertly reviewed Episode 1, and Episode 2, so I won’t rehash the films.
The Red White and Blueprint’s house of cards is tumbling down, and with it, Recall Shasta seems equally doomed, and its plan to recall supervisors Joe Chimenti (District 1), Leonard Moty (District 2) and Mary Rickert (District 3).
Here are a few indications that Red White and Blueprint is circling the drain. Feel free to include your observations in the comments.
Courtney Kreider calls it quits
Of all the cringeworthy moments at the Red White and Blueprint fundraiser at Harmon Ranch in Palo Cedro (and there were many), nothing surpassed the sight of former KRCR television news reporter Courtney Kreider carrying a massive American flag to join the main Red White and Blueprint menfolk on stage. The stiff wind whipped the flag and Kreider’s short green dress, but she held firmly to that flagpole.
This was the same Kreider, who with Zapata started the Red White and Blueprint so-called “movement”. This was the same Kreider, a reporter with an AA in journalism and a Bachelor’s in criminal justice. This was the Kreider who did not speak while on stage. She just stood there. Her presence, as one person wryly observed, seemed to serve as nothing more than “redneck eye candy”. Behind her, a Red White and Blueprint docuseries photographer captured the scene that would surely have made for some good footage for the next episode.
Other photos from that evening are among the last that show Kreider with Zapata, or Cottonwood barber/militia leader Clendenen, or any other RW&B players, for that matter. After that, Kreider seemed to fall off the Red White and Blueprint’s drafting table, never to be seen with them again.
On May 7, not quite two weeks after the cringeworthy Harmon Ranch event, Kreider posted an announcement on her Facebook page that said she was no longer involved with Red White and Blueprint.
“The decision comes with reasons of my own and is not to discredit the hard work in production of this docuseries,” Kreider said in an excerpt of her message, adding, “I believe there are good people who want to want to make our country better and good will always outweigh evil.”
Notice she did not mention Zapata, her previous Red White and Blueprint partner.
Notice that although she spoke of good people, she didn’t identify Zapata as one of them.
Likewise, as social media lit up with news that Kreider was quitting Red White and Blueprint, Zapata never mentioned the departure of Kreider, someone who was supposed to be a key team member, and head of the organization’s media team. Poof. It was as if Courtney Kreider never existed. Courtney Kreider? Courtney Kreider who?
As Kreider said in her post, she had her own reasons for leaving RW&B. No doubt that’s true. However, the abruptness of Kreider’s decision begs many questions, to which only Zapata and Kreider know the answers.
On social media some people mocked Kreider for her affiliation with Zapata. I will not join that group. Yes, I was critical of how she handled a particular story. However, nobody’s perfect, and I’ve messed up on plenty of stories, too. So I cut Kreider lots of slack, for many reasons. For one thing, she’s from here. She was born in Viola, east up Highway 44 beyond Shingletown. She describes herself as a small-town girl. She’s young, conservative, idealistic and earnest. Sure, she’s had some messy employment bumps in the road lately, perhaps of her own making. But haven’t we all experienced some career missteps at some point in our lives? Yes, perhaps it was a mistake for Kreider to join Zapata and the Red White and Blueprint project, but haven’t we all made poor relationship choices? I’m twice divorced, so I can attest to the humility and lessons learned from major life screw-ups.
Mostly, I credit Kreider for leaving Red White and Blueprint when she did. The moment she left was yet another sign that Red White and Blueprint is in trouble. It will come as no surprise when we see other current RW&B supporters follow Kreider’s exit. At this point, we might consider it the Red White and Blueprint IQ test. The smarter the people are, the sooner they will jump ship. The ones left standing by Zapata until the bitter end … not the sharpest knives on the tree.
And not that anyone asked, but if I were Kreider’s former employer, I’d offer her a job, and maybe allow her to cover some of the stories to which she’s obviously attracted. After all, like it or not, the conservative market is alive and well here in Shasta County. And her many former fans who were upset when Kreider left would be happy to see her return. For the station’s part, such a move would go a long way toward showing grace and compassion. Plus, strategically speaking it would be good for ratings.
Recall issues galore
First the recall was terminated because the Recall Shasta group goofed up the application process, a mistake that recall organizers blamed on everyone but themselves. It was the newspaper’s fault! It was the Registrar of Voters’ fault! It was all Shasta County’s grand conspiracy to block the recall of District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti, District 2 Supervisor Leonard Moty and District 3 Supervisor Mary Rickert. No fair!
But the recall folks barely got a chance to regain their footing, when an hour before a May 4 regular Shasta County Board meeting, the three supervisors targeted for recall turned the tables on the Recall Shasta and Red White and Blueprint folks with an announcement of their own: They’d asked the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to investigate an alleged “array of illegal activities, finance violations and numerous cases of state election law,” committed by the recallers. Specifically, the three groups under scrutiny by the FPPC were the Red White and Blueprint, Recall Shasta and the Shasta General Purpose Committee.
This potential FPPC stumbling block could bring the Red White and Blueprint project to its knees. It’s all about campaign money and financial transparency and full disclosure. It’s a simple case of walking like a duck and quacking like a duck when it comes to racking up evidence that what RW&B and Recall Shasta have here is a full-on election campaign, and to call it anything else is a farce. It’d be like throwing an event that has a big pink cake with lighted candles stuck in it that a special person blows out, and everyone bring cards and gifts for that special person, and there’s a piñata, and everyone sings a song they all know, “Happy birthday to you!” Only a fool would attempt to deny it’s anything except a birthday party.
The recallers responded with a lame accusation, that Chimenti, Moty and Rickert committed a Brown Act violation via their participation in the Shasta Forward group, organized to reject the recall. The FPPC disagreed, and sided with the supervisors.
That’s strike 2, if anyone’s keeping score.
Is Carlos finally losing it?
It’s getting more and more difficult for any rational person to take Zapata seriously as a leader of anything other than a rage-fueled insurrection.
Ever since we first met him last August when he delivered his tough-guy verbal lashing directed toward the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, it didn’t take a genius to recognize the former Marine as a hothead with an over-developed ego. That toxic machismo appealed to some people. His video went viral and he became a celebrity of sorts among a number of right-wing extremists, State of Jeffersonians, militia members, anti-vaxers, COVID-deniers, conspiracy theorists, Christian zealots and those who still believe the election was stolen. That’s just a mere sample.
We’ve heard his verbal threats, both overt and barely veiled.
We’ve read his words that call for violence; so often that we’re nearly numb to them.
We heard how he slammed his hand on the table of a Palo Cedro restaurant and got in the face of a woman eating dinner with her husband, because Zapata didn’t like what she’d posted on Facebook.
And earlier this year Zapata participated in a panel discussion in Cottonwood in which he described the lengths he and his fellow militia members were prepared to go.
“I have literally hundreds of thousands of messages from patriots across this land, and even supporters in Canada, and Australia, and other countries around the world who were willing to be here at the drop of a hat if we put the balloon up right now, and we say, ‘Hey, we need all of you here,’ Zapata said.
“They will be here, and you’d better bet your ass that everything you have that they will fight until the death for what’s right.
That’s where were at. This is no longer about talk. It’s been over six months ago I gave a speech. I was heard around the world to our county supervisors. That speech is nothing. That’s speech is nothing without action. Those words are empty words. I am many things, but a coward I’m not. Just know that me, and many men like me are willing to do awful, awful things, so that we can restore what is ours, because we really believe it’s ours.”
He boasts about being seemingly untouchable by law enforcement, even federal agents. He encourages his fellow patriots to join him.
There’s some increasingly crazy disconnect between the phony wholesome Red White and Blueprint God-bless-America image portrayed in Zapata’s videos, and his statements delivered in podcasts, as illustrated in this clip from Thought You Should Know – Shasta County:
His followers were mostly quiet through all Zapata’s initial bluster, threats and anger. However, he may have shot himself in the foot when he followed through with a recent threat to show up at the workplace of a comedian who goes by the name of Nathan Blaze; a sous chef and peaceful racial-equality protest-organizer who’d satirized Zapata in some videos.
According to Blaze, Zapata showed up at the restaurant and threw his drink on Blaze. Zapata warned of this visit in an earlier text exchange.
After than, Blaze said two of Zapata’s companions – a woman who is alleged to have worked for Zapata, and a male friend – assaulted Blaze. Blaze filed a police report, and a temporary restraining order against Zapata.
Despite the assault, Blaze has continued his videos. (Below is a compilation of Blaze’s videos related to the recall.)
That includes his most popular creations that feature the fictional character Buford White, whose words bear a striking similarity to Zapata’s.
As of this writing, Zapata has managed to evade being served.
In the meantime, Blaze said he was fired from his job because of the assault. Redding Police is investigating the allegation, which includes the restaurant’s surveillance footage from the night of the alleged attack. A spotfund account has been set up to benefit Blaze during his unemployment. Blaze acknowledges securing another job may be difficult for him as some restaurant owners may be understandably nervous about hiring him and risking someone like Carlos causing trouble at their business.
Exacerbating an already delicate situation, Zapata posted a message on social media about Blaze’s employment future in Shasta County.
Red White and Blueprint followers are losing confidence
As word spread about the assault upon Blaze, some supporters expressed discomfort with Red White and Blueprint’s current direction.
Is Red White and Blueprint too big to fail?
Even if Red White and Blueprint’s house of cards collapses, it might not be so easy to pick up the pieces and for its leaders to escape unscathed. There are all those Red White and Blueprint VIP memberships, starting at $497, but reduced to the bargain price of $247. Anyone who’s signed up for emails – as I have – can attest that Red White and Blueprint is all about begging for money. In fact, it’s as if the recall message has become secondary to the money-grubbing pleas. How much money are we talking, anyway? Who’s in charge of it? How much are key players receiving?
Supposedly, the money was raised to support the Red White and Blueprint docuseries, which is a colossal tale-wagging-the-dog scenario because ostensibly the point of the docuseries was to showcase the regular rural folks’ grassroots recall efforts. In reality, the documentary is the main event, when so far, there’s no real plan, and no real story line; just a lot of production work to produce a slick video. This is no grassroots effort. It’s a series of fake-ass fairytales orchestrated by some people who are actually profiting during the pandemic, while there are actual cases of people who’ve complied with the mandates who have lost everything. People like Zapata and Clendenen, and businesses like Dill’s Deli, are not in that category.
Remember, Zapata and friends’ initial idea behind the Red White and Blueprint was that those “blueprint” instructions for how to “drain the swap” and “take back government” would be so successful that counties all over America would clamor to emulate the model.
Anyone want to place bets on how Red White and Blueprint’s pyramid scheme has arranged it so counties could pay for access to the blueprints, plus more money kicked in money for travel, lodging and guest appearances for RW&B “consultants” like Zapata and Co.?
While we’re betting, anyone want to place bets on which parts of the recall the group will screw up next?
The big question is what will happen with the docuseries if the recall fails. What will happen to all the money raised expressly for the docuseries? And who knows exactly what kind of money we’re talking about, anyway? Judging by the vast amounts of cash being spent on a fancy podcast recording studio, that one expert in the field valued in the range of $10,000 to $20,000, it seems money is no object.
Well, all that money and all those questions will be investigated by the FPPC, so we’ll all know the answers soon enough.
Zapata can’t zip it
As usual, Zapata provides his own worst press. He seems incapable of keeping his fingers off the keyboard. He either doesn’t have an attorney to advise him to stay off social media and quit incriminating himself, or Zapata is ignoring sound legal counsel.
Either way, Zapata is a walking, talking, typing, video-selfie-taking goldmine of proof that not only does he have a propensity for violence, and not only does he follow through with threats, but he has no intention of stopping. It’s all legal fodder, but Zapata just can’t seem to control himself.
Case in point, over the weekend Zapata posted a message that has all the hallmarks of a confession, wrapped in yet another threat.
Is it all Zapata’s deliberate plan to gut RW&B?
One wise colleague’s theory is that Zapata is intentionally pulling reckless stunts and posting preposterous statements. Maybe he’s really in control; it’s all an act, a way for Zapata to save face and allow Red White and Blueprint to self-destruct, without it looking like it’s a failure – his failure – per se.
CZ: “Dang! I have this dumb restraining order crap to take care of, plus the anger-management classes,” so I have no choice except to step down from Red White and Blueprint and hand the reins over to Woody …Woody? Woody? …”
Maybe all Zapata’s recent inexplicable moves are because he can see that Red White and Blueprint is dying. Kreider’s gone, and who knows who else is ready to jump. Maybe he doubts Red White and Blueprint will ever make it beyond Episode 4. Maybe he’s just looking for a way out, which would explain the assault in the restaurant, and the uptick in threatening statements on social media.
Or maybe my colleague is wrong. Maybe Zapata is actually out of control. Maybe he’s losing it. Either way, Red White and Blueprint looks like its days are numbered. Dead in the water. Toast.
The end of Recall Shasta and the fiasco called Red White and Blueprint cannot come soon enough. But it will take more people like Courtney Kreider to take a stand and say they no longer want to be a part of it.
Zapata arrived on the scene during one of our country’s – our county’s – most emotionally charged, fractured times in history. Leading up to the election, the North State was sharply divided between Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, mask-wearers and mask-refusers. Families and friendships suffered painful separations, some of which may never heal.
Then along came this monstrous spider that gave birth to baby spiders, and together they wove a giant web of lies, and together they lured many good people into the web, and into believing their lies. Many people actually paid to be part of that web, because somehow, they thought it would bring security or return them to an imaginary carefree time.
If Recall Shasta and RW&B succeed, they will unseat three elected, conservative, Second-Amendment-loving Republicans from office. If they succeed, they will replace them with people more like militia-member/strip club owner Carlos Zapata, and Cottonwood militia leader Woody Clendenen, and Elissa McEuen the bull-horn-yeller, or the State of Jefferson-pushing Rapozas, or Richard Gallardo, with his history of yelling county staff, and his failed citizen’s arrest, or Lori Bridgeford who impersonates media and screams at people lined up for vaccines, and people like the cursing Vladislav Davidzon, whose language during the public comment period has turned board chambers into R-rated experiences. People like that, and others we’ve not even met, those are the people who would like to fill seats emptied by a recall. (Oh, wait. Cancel Clendenen. He’s a Tehama County resident, which begs the question: Why is he even involved in Red White and Blueprint in the first place?)
It’s no secret that I’m a Democrat. But when I see supervisors Joe Chimenti, Leonard Moty and Mary Rickert, I do not see three Republicans. Rather, I see three good people, each of whom did the best as humanly possible to protect our North State people during a pandemic. When I look at those who are rejecting the recall, I don’t see political parties, but rational people who want the best for our community.
For the first time in a long time we can stand together and unite for one cause that’s not about left or right, conservative or liberal, old or young, rich or poor. We can unite behind being smart, strong and doing what’s right for our community. We can unite behind joining forces with others for the sake of our region’s health, safety and ultimate welfare, for us all.
I’m counting on rational people rising to the top during these challenging times. Rational, regular, observant people can see through the webs, and beyond slick productions. We can question the validity and authenticity of Red White and Blueprint. Rational people know when we’re being manipulated, used, conned, and played like chumps. Rational people know a flimflam man when we see one.
Looking back at Courtney Kreider’s letter, I believe what she believes:
“There are good people who want to want to make our country better,” she said. “And good will always outweigh evil.”
In some ways, Carlos Zapata has done us a favor as our foil. He’s enabled us to focus on what’s at stake, and inspired us to set aside our previous differences to work for a common goal. He’s given us a reason to unite as a community to ensure that good will prevail over dark, destructive forces that seek to dismantle our county as we know it.
In the end, Zapata may wind up being the accidental hero of this story.
Now that’s a successful blueprint worth documenting.