In late September, Mark Baird, the leader of the far-right State of Jefferson radical secessionist movement, joined Red, White and Blueprint leaders and members Carlos Zapata, Jon Knight, Woody Clendenen, and Lani Bangay, in the Mountain Top Media studio in downtown Redding to discuss a wide range of topics on their most recent Red, White and Blueprint podcast.
Zapata and Knight are part owners of the Red, White and Blueprint media company, and Clendenen and Bangay are cast members in the docuseries produced under its name.
Clendenen is the leader of the Cottonwood militia and owns and operates a barbershop in the small town that recently displayed a Confederate flag on a pole in front of the establishment. Bangay, on the other hand, is a former firefighter who worked for the Chico Fire Department and now runs Country Strong Fitness and Country Strong Learning Center in Palo Cedro.
Described as a social media consultation and video production company, Mountain Top Media is solely a byproduct of Red, White and Blueprint’s attempt to create a post-recall identity and cash flow.
Titled, “We the People,” the first docuseries episode produced by Red, White and Blueprint garnered more than 52,400 views back in March. Between Episode 2, released in April, and Episode 4, released in June, viewership dropped from 18,000 to 13,000. Despite Episode 4’s title of “Heat,” nothing has cooled down more in Shasta County than Red, White and Blueprint.
Red, White and Blueprint has only 380 subscribers on YouTube, and the latest episode, released on October 2nd, has only 6,000 views.
In its search for a post-recall identity, Red, White, and Blueprint has branched out to record podcasts for two other interrelated far-right entities, the State of Jefferson and Sovereign Minds. Mark Kent and his sister Lyndia Kent started the latter, which is also an ongoing far-right radio show known for pushing COVID-19 conspiracies and other misinformation on KCNR AM 1460. Mark Kent is also the filings and tax consultant for the State of Jefferson movement while Lyndia Kent serves as treasurer.
Baird joined the four men at the table in the studio via Zoom. The group discussed myriad topics, including United States history, the Latinx community and education.
Baird also shed light on his homophobic views, which he has not previously shared publicly.
“Leading Scholar on the Constitution and American History”
Zapata started the conversation by introducing Baird as a “leading scholar on the constitution and American history.” Baird has given talk after talk on the reasons why counties in rural Northern California should secede from the rest of the state since the most recent incarnation of the State of Jefferson movement in 2013. In these talks, Baird repeatedly fails to illustrate how the proposed state, whose population would be predominantly white, rural, and Republican would survive from an economic standpoint, among other things.
Baird does an excellent job of sounding intelligent and looking the part of an angry rural right-winger hell bent on breaking away from the rest of the Golden State, but his delivery is like that of a broken record: “Constitution,” “liberty,” “we the people,” “tyranny,” “representation,” repeat. If anyone has provided a “blueprint” for a right-wing revolt in the North State, it is Baird.
If there was a statement that characterized the ridiculous nature of the roundtable discussion on American history about to take place, it was Zapata’s introduction of Baird. Zapata’s lack of knowledge and perspective when it comes to history makes all too much sense now.
The men’s podcast roundtable began by discussing the American Revolution. Baird cited there was less ignorance around the time of the American Revolution than today because the Patriots read books and went to plays instead watching television and partaking in other forms of “mindless entertainment.”
Liberty was important to the Patriots, and they did not believe it was the responsibility of the government to give you everything, continued Baird, but “nowadays we look to government for everything,” and view it as “the big security blanket” that is “supposed to help you and give you things.”
Zapata responded to Baird’s claim, citing the “mentality where people don’t care about liberty” resulted from “60 years’ of hard conditioning and indoctrination through our schools.”
The larger point the group was trying to make is that people are lazy and want the government to take care of them, and that this mentality is rooted in a love of communism and the polar opposite of that held by the Patriots and the Founding Fathers.
Historical Realities & ‘Big Government Handouts’
The larger point the group failed to grasp is that the Founding Fathers, many of whom owned slaves, created a government that initially only benefited themselves and white men like them. In fact, several articles of the Constitution protected the institution of slavery. Moreover, the 1790 Naturalization Act, the first law to grant citizenship, limited it to white men. Fast forward to the 1830s when President Jackson led the forceful removal of indigenous peoples from the South to transfer the land to white planters and others. Decades later, the 1862 Homestead Act distributed more than 240 million acres of land in the Midwest, also taken from indigenous peoples, to white men in affordable 160-acre plots.
The Homestead Act, alone was one of the most extensive programs ever launched by the federal government. It embodied a “big government handout,” but the Red, White, and Blueprint gang is remiss to take notice. They would like us to “get over” and forget all of the bad stuff and embrace their uninformed fairy tale version of history.
As the group discussed notions of freedom in early U.S. history, Clendenen put on his dunce cap to explain that different ideas of freedom existed in the northeastern and southern U.S. in the 19th century. In Clendenen’s imagination, northeasterners believed that freedom meant the ability to “do commerce” while the “people of the South believed that their liberty came from God” and held a “don’t tell me what to do” mindset. A verbal salute to the Confederate flag he displayed in front of his barber shop.
Collectivism & the Social Contract
The men then discussed their dislike of “collectivism” and the social contract. “I hate when they say you have a collective responsibility or a social contract” cited Clendenen as Baird nodded his head in agreement.
“It’s my freedom to go to school for free,” responded Knight, who is always ready to inject random nonsense into a conversation. “It’s my freedom to have all this free stuff without having to do anything for it,” continued Knight in his signature goofy intonation.
Dislike of the “social contract” is a big talking point in far-right circles. Terry Rapoza and Win Carpenter discussed it in several State of Jefferson podcasts. Rapoza is the county coordinator and head of merchandising for the SOJ movement. Carpenter, on the other hand, is the No. 2 in command under Baird. Together, they host a radio show that has the same title as their podcasts on KCNR AM 1460.
In the first State of Jefferson podcast, released in late August, Carpenter referred to the “social contract” as the “socialist contract.” Carpenter also argued “we have not been getting true civics lessons” and that the school system is teaching kids “garbage” that is “beyond repulsive” instead of “educating the sovereign citizens.”
“We need to teach the kids about civics,” continued Carpenter, “so they know how to do the proper thing and how to stand up for themselves and for others around them that can’t physically, or are not able, to stand up and fight for themselves,” and, “that’s what we’re talking about here.”
Carpenter also claimed, “it’s our moral obligation” to stand up for friends, family, and even enemies. His comments about “standing up” for people to help guarantee their rights sounded an awful lot like the social contract.
The only comment Rapoza could muster up as he changed the direction of the conversation was that “political correctness” was “bullshit.” Rapoza then went on to gush about how great the recall movement was and how it had gone viral and “will have success either way, because tyranny will not win out over righteousness.”
Jon Knight Goes on Graphic Tangent about Partial Birth Abortion
Somewhere in the middle of the Red, White, and Blueprint podcast, Knight took the roundtable discussion down a rabbit hole by asking, “Where do we go when there’s a larger percentage of the population of people that support things like partial-birth abortion?” The group paused, as the three other men at the table probably thought about Knight, “There he goes again.”
“They’ll let the body come out and the head stays in and they stab the head open and they suck the brain out with a vacuum and they sell the body parts,” continued Knight as Zapata sat up straight and muttered something into the microphone in what appeared a failed attempt to stop Knight from speaking.
“Look, I don’t like talking about this stuff,” exclaimed Knight as he raised both hands, but “I’m just sayin’.” Clendenen then gave Zapata a sideways look as if to say, “Shut him up.”
Partial birth abortion is not legal in the U.S. or widely supported by the public.
Zapata, who had very little options but to double down on the direction of the conversation to bring it back to a point wherein Baird could jump back in, blurted out the question, “But how do you find common ground with that person?”
“You don’t,” cited Zapata, as he succeeded in answering his own simple question while also shutting Knight up.
Baird Outs Himself as a Homophobe
After Knight’s rant about partial birth abortion, Baird rejoined the conversation by quoting the Gospel of Mark 3:25 and stating, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Baird then claimed that “men dressing like women and going in women’s bathrooms” and “pretending” to “be the other sex” was unacceptable. This, along with “murdering your own children” – a reference to abortion.
Baird then claimed, “Light cannot have fellowship with darkness because [and] where there is darkness there can’t be any light and where there is light there can’t be any darkness.”
Baird’s hateful homophobic stance, while no different from that expressed by other leader of the State of Jefferson movement, signaled a departure from what he expressed in past statements. A few years ago, he claimed that the State of Jefferson movement, “it isn’t about gay marriage,” but it is about “liberty through adequate representation.” Although this was not an expression of support for the LGBTQ+ community, it was certainly not a blatantly homophobic statement like that he uttered during the podcast.
“How Many Genders are There?”
Other members of the State of Jefferson movement have expressed similar homophobic beliefs. In the third State of Jefferson podcast published in early September, Rapoza, asked, “How many genders are there?” At one point and he vaguely questioned if 5-year-old children should be taught about sex and gender without offering any concrete examples.
Following his homophobic rant, Rapoza, dressed in a red, white, and blue button-up shirt with the word “freedom” printed all over it, starred down to his Nestle brand bottled water, paused, then blurted out, “It’s time for no more bullshit.” It was almost as if he was repeating a line expressed the night before, as he and his wife “Rally” Sally Rapoza sipped on martinis while listening to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’s 1965 album, “Whipped Cream.”
“It’s time to quit fartin’ around and get down to the bone here,” continued Rapoza. A few minutes later, Rapoza repeated the same statement about getting “down to the bone,” while also stating “There’s no more dinking around” and “You can’t F-around anymore.” Perhaps Rapoza’s recent affinity for dropping curse words and being more vulgar illustrates his desire to emulate Zapata.
Rapoza, like Baird and other far-right figures in Shasta County, believe there are only two genders that are exclusively the result of sex.
Mark Kent echoed Baird and Rapoza’s homophobic perspectives last summer. In response to the Shasta County Board of Supervisor’s vote to name June LGBTQ+ Pride month in the county, Kent shuffled to the microphone during one meeting to claim that the supervisors should also create an “old white guy, hardworking American, Christian values, honest, self-reliant, conservative month.” Kent was dressed in a black shirt that included a State of Jefferson logo, and despite the fact that his statement was very short, he read it from his phone.
It is plain to see that homophobic hate is one of the central tenants of the State of Jefferson movement, Red, White, and Blueprint, Recall Shasta, and the North State’s broader far-right community.
State of Jefferson Movement Spirals into Radicalism
A source who wishes to remain anonymous, someone who grew up around the State of Jefferson movement, disclosed a personal view that the racism, homophobia and anti-immigrant nativism espoused by leaders of the movement is very difficult to deal with. The individual is someone who “used to support the movement, even selling its gear and spreading their literature, until it moved too far right.”
The anonymous source shared, “It really ended for me during the Trump presidency” as “the movement continued to spiral towards radical conservatism.”
When asked about Baird’s outing of himself as homophobic in the Red, White, and Blueprint podcast, the source simply responded that leaders of the State of Jefferson movement are “getting worse and worse as a group with denouncing people and spreading hate.”
“I have heard him say some terrible things in private, too,” exclaimed the source in reference to Baird.
The source explained: “I’m not comfortable being quoted off the comments I made,” because “this whole situation is terrible because I really hate their views and would like to push back, but they are also my family and family friends that have shown me personal kindness for a larger part of my life.”
The hateful far-right views expressed by leaders of the State of Jefferson movement, like the political divisions witnessed at both the local and national level, have torn families apart.
The Roundtable Discusses the Latinx Community
Toward the end of the podcast, Zapata asked the group how they could attract people from the “other side.”
Baird claimed Red, White, and Blueprint should organize more small-town halls in different neighborhood and reach out to the Latinx community, who are “typically socially conservative, but they vote Democrat because they’ll vote for anybody that’ll give them money.”
Baird’s backhanded compliment of the Latinx community illustrates one of the reasons why many are hesitant to embrace the far right. Stating that the Republican Party could benefit from attracting the Latinx community is not exactly a revelation. In 2012, the Republican National Committee released a report calling for the GOP to reach out to Latinx voters.
Clendenen did his best to jump into the conversation without sounding racist when he stated, “It’s funny that Mark’s the third guy this week that mentioned the ahhh…the Mexican American population.”
“The first one was my uncle, he lives in Oklahoma, and you know, they’re starting to get a lot a …” continued Clendenen as he paused to think of the right way to say it. “A lot of ahhhh….the the ileee…well…most mostly illegal, but a lot a legal uh, Mexicans moving up in there.”
Clendenen clearly put 100 percent of his existence into not sounding ignorant, yet he still failed.
While the men around the table attempted to compliment the Latinx community, the fact is, there is a strong thread of anti-Latinx and anti-immigrant nativism in the State of Jefferson movement and the North State’s broader far-right community.
California as a “Sanctuary State”
Mark Baird and others have roundly criticized the California Values Act (Senate Bill 54) which made California a “sanctuary state” for undocumented immigrants after its passage in 2018. In one State of Jefferson podcast, Terry Rapoza, a good friend of Baird’s, argued it is unconstitutional. Many support this notion, despite the fact that the Supreme Court rejected the challenge against SB 54 submitted by the Trump administration in 2020.
The anti-immigrant position held by members of the State of Jefferson movement and others who subscribe to the politics of the far right is problematic in the Latinx community because around two-thirds are either undocumented themselves or know someone or has a family member who is undocumented.
The resistance to SB 54 in the North State is astounding considering that only 9 percent of the population in the region is foreign born in a state where the total is 27 percent.
Around the time SB 54 was enacted, county supervisors in Tehama, Shasta, and Siskiyou County, as well as the city of Anderson, passed ordinances declaring they were “non-Sanctuary.” Rick Greene, of the Siskiyou County Democratic Central Committee, argued that the resolution was “unnecessary and mean spirited.” Siskiyou County District 2 Supervisor Ed Valenzuela issued the only “no” vote and argued that the board was exaggerating the issue.
“Let’s be honest,” explained Shasta County Supervisor Leonard Moty in a 2018 interview, “the immigrant population in Shasta County is not big,” and “the immigrant population does not create our crime problem.”
The crime problem, according to Moty, resulted from “a bunch of white people who are committing the crimes, who are doing the drugs,” as opposed to “some other population that showed up from some other country.”
The exaggeration of problems caused by undocumented immigration in the Northstate is all too common. At a 2018 State of Jefferson rally in Placerville, one of the speakers, 19-year-old Riley Taresh, explained that she worked at a Payless shoe store while enrolled at Folsom Lake College, and that she lived at home with her parents because she could not support herself.
As a self-proclaimed member of the “working-class poor,” Taresh explained the chance of a four-year college accepting her application to enroll was low because she was white.
“I’m like, excuse me, I have to work my butt off to get anywhere, and you’re going to hand illegals…a driver’s license,” expressed Taresh, and “you’re going to hand them an education, and I have to work my butt off until I’m in tears and begging for help to get anywhere? No.”
When Taresh made these comments, there were only 26,000 undocumented students attending California colleges and universities, this out of a total student population of 2 million. In other words, undocumented students accounted for just over 1 percent of all college students, yet somehow it was their fault Taresh’s dreams of enrolling in a four-year university did not come to fruition.
More Comments on Latinx Community
As Baird and the Red, White, and Blueprint gang continued to discuss the Latinx community, they tried to be nice, but it did not come off as fully genuine. Clendenen said that he liked Mexican Americans, the largest subgroup in the Latinx population, because “they’re patriots.”
Clendenen also said, without fully explaining himself, that “Mexican Americans are gonna be the ones that save this county.”
At one point, the men discussed in an incredibly unintelligent and ignorant manner how Mexican Americans should support the far-right community in the North State because they had a history of supporting revolutionaries such as Emiliano Zapata.
Zapata then tried to encourage the group to speak more broadly about all Latinx Americans, as opposed to just Mexican Americans, arguing that they only vote for Democrats because they subscribe to the narrative that Republicans and “the white man hates you.”
“Trust me,” Zapata said. “I’ve been born and raised into a Hispanic community” and “my parents never fed us that. We could of easily jumped on that train, you know, and said, ‘oh man we’re owed something, you know, we came here with nothing’ and ‘we’re owed something from the American government, from the white person,’ but “that never was our mentality,” continued Zapata, a figure who has never openly shared his family’s background.
Whether they wished it so or not, Zapata and Baird’s statements stereotyped Latinx immigrants as a population in search of government handouts that tends to vote for Democrats.
“I think most of them feel like we feel,” stated Zapata, who continued with, “When you get down into the streets, into these neighborhoods, into these — you know — these communities and talk to these people, they believe the things that we believe.”
“They want the things that we want, you know,” Zapata said. ” They want less government, they want tighter-knit families, they want God, they want good education for their kids, you know, they want all the things we all desire to have.”
The major point Zapata failed to show that he grasped was that the Latinx community is capable of achieving these things without help from him or the Red, White, and Blueprint crowd.
“It’s actually a phenomenon where, for the first time, I think we’re seeing large, you know, large, large large portions of the Hispanic population that’s gonna turn and vote for ah, I don’t even want to say Republican because I’m so disenfranchised with both sides you know…” Zapata said before pausing, which is when one of the men interjected, “conservative.”
Zapata acted as if he was sharing some kind of revelation about the Latinx community. The fact is, however, that around 33 percent of Latinx voters in California voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, 28 percent of Latinx voters in the U.S. voted for Trump, more than four times that of African Americans.
Trump is particularly appealing to Latino men under the age of 40. Latinx support for Trump, however, is part of a broader issue the Democratic party now faces with regard to working-class voters.
As the discussion on the Latinx community came to a close, Jon Knight asked Baird, “What if we use this thing against them, and, by them opening the flood gate…flood gates to ah, people coming over here an and we red pill them and you know what I mean? — We red them and turn then against the globalists, you know?”
The men looked around shaking their heads, as they do frequently when Knight opens his mouth. A few muttered, “Sure.”
It was the perfect end to a senseless discussion.
Although membership in the different far-right entities in Shasta County has always overlapped, they are doing so now more than ever as Red, White, and Blueprint searches for a post-recall identity and relevance and as Shasta County’s recall movement has a wheel in the ditch and seems stalled, unable to move forward.
One thing is for certain: It is difficult to listen to any Red, White, and Blueprint or State of Jefferson podcast and not feel as if your IQ just dropped a few points.