Militia (culture)

One of Those Moments (… cum Farce)

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., 13 December 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

To the one, something goes here about unnamed sources; it’s a long question, by now. To the other, though—

For all the morning’s madness, there may have been an underlying logic. Over the weekend, as Brett Kavanaugh’s prospects appeared increasingly imperiled, Trump faced two tactical options, both of them fraught. One was to cut Kavanaugh loose. But he was also looking for ways to dramatically shift the news cycle away from his embattled Supreme Court nominee. According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. “The strategy was to try and do something really big,” the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.

(Sherman)

President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 24 May 2018. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)—this is the Trump administration: What insanity will we be expected to believe, tomorrow? The question is how well a bit like this ages; certes, it makes a powerful headline, but the instinct to disbelieve seems largely reasonable.

And, again, to the other, this is the Trump administration. The idea of a T&A comedy presidency ought to be a really stupid joke. Something, something, Trump administration, right. This really is what they voted for, and no, it’s been more of a tragedy cum farce than any sort of comedy. It really isn’t funny.

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Image notes: Top — Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies to the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., 13 December 2017. (Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)  Right — President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 24 May 2018. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

Sherman, Gabe. “‘The Strategy Was to Try and Do Something Really Big’: Trump Wanted to Nuke Rosenstein to Save Kavanaugh’s Bacon”. Vanity Fair. 24 September 2018.

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Nearly Laughable

#DimensionTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 16 February 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)

At first glance, it seems nearly laughable—

President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon will be interviewed next week by a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The interview behind closed doors on Tuesday with the House Intelligence Committee will focus on Bannon’s time on the campaign, not the transition or his time in the White House, the source said.

Political strategist Stephen Bannon speaks at a Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore campaign rally in Midland City, Alabama, 11 December 2017. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)—but the news from Reuters reporters Karen Freifeld and Patricia Zengerle can also sound like the start of something, well, if not good then at least spectacular.

To the other, this is Steve Bannon, and if he can tell news consumers precisely what they want to hear, he can tell politicians exactly what needs to in order that the Beltway should rupture into flaming panic.

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Image note: Top —President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a press conference in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, D.C., 16 February 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)  Right — Political strategist Stephen Bannon speaks at a Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore campaign rally in Midland City, Alabama, 11 December 2017. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

Freifeld, Karen and Patricia Zengerle. “Bannon to appear before Congress committee for Russia probe”. Reuters. 11 January 2018.

Too Damn Perfect

#PutiTrump | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Andrea Chalupa (@AndreaChalupa) and Brian Vastag (@brianvastag), via Twitter, 22 March 2017.

The setup is yet another tweetstorm, and, look, you have to be careful. To the one, Andrea Chalupa’s “thread about #RussiaGate and Paul Manafort’s $10M/year contract to further the interests of Putin’s government” is as likely as any, but it really does seem to bury the lede, that Donald Trump is a victim in all this:

@AndreaChalupa: 11. Can’t help but think today of what IC agent told me: Trump never wanted to win. They made him run. He’s trapped. And now IC closing in.

@BrianVastag: @AndreaChalupa Who’s the “they” here?

@AndreaChalupa: @brianvastag In DT’s eyes? Close friends and admirers. But they also happened to be people embedded with the Kremlin/Russian money.

(more…)

A Moment Spent Dwelling on Failure

Clockwise from top left: Ryan Bundy, Ammon Bundy, Brian Cavalier, Peter Santilli, Shawna Cox, Ryan Payne and Joseph O'Shaughnessy, insurrectionists who participated in the 41-day takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, in booking photos released 27 January 2016, by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

And then there is the update we would, on balance, prefer to not give a damn about:

Anti-government militants who seized a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon earlier this year conspired to intimidate government workers and steal property, a heavily armed invasion that was not protected by the U.S. Constitution, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Barrow told a packed courtroom in downtown Portland that during the January takeover, the conspirators, many wearing camouflage and toting rifles, practiced shooting drills and hand-to-hand combat at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. They also had a stockpile of some 15,000 rounds of ammunition.

“We all have a right to bear arms,” Barrow said. “This is a case about what the defendants did with those firearms.”

(Sherwood)

(more…)

Murder Less Foul

A Gadsden flag flies at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

“The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.”

Paul H. Jossey

Campaign finance attorney Paul H. Jossey confesses to a murder of sorts―

Greedy super PACs drained the movement with endless pleas for money to support “conservative” candidates—while instead using the money to enrich themselves. I should know. I worked for one of them.

―and while the Politico article from the lawyer who made a living fleecing tricornered tinfoils is a laborious but insightful read, the one thing nobody gets to do is pretend surprise.

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Image note: Infamy ― A Gadsden flag flies at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon, on Jan. 10, 2016. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)

Jossey, Paul H. “How We Killed the Tea Party”. Politico. 14 August 2016.

A Moment Unto Itself

msnbc - "55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation". Detail of frame from The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 5 January 2016.

This is a moment in American history.

True enough, one can take that in various contexts; it is certainly a moment in American history, but is it significant? To wit, maybe you missed the chyron because you were in the bathroom. Or, you know, were just watching something else. That you watched a game show or answered the call is certainly a matter of, and moment in, American history, but it doesn’t really mean a whole lot unless you suffer a stroke as a result.

Or, you know. Something. I don’t know.

The msnbc chyron really says―

55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation

―and it seems that ought to count for something.

And that really is a fifty-five year old man with some manner of grudge against society sitting under a tarp, holding a gun, waiting for someone to try to arrest him.

It seems significant. The question of meaning, however, gapes.

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Image note: “55-year-old protester under tarp with gun preparing for altercation” ― Tony Dokopouil of msnbc reports from Princeton, Oregon, where armed insurgents have occupied a federal wildlife reserve, 5 January 2016. Detail of frame from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.

O’Donnell, Lawrence. “Oregon insurgents testing law enforcement”. The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. msnbc. 5 January 2016.

The Huffington Disgrace

"Serena Williams' Sheer Dress Is A Grand Slam". Headline for Huffington Post article by Jamie Feldman, 16 December 2015.

MEMORANDUM

To: Jamie Feldman, Huffington Post

re: ¿Thank you for your contribution?

It is hard to know where to begin, so let me please start with a question: Are you joking?

No, really, are you pitching for a Christmas card from MRAs?

All hail Serena Williams, Sports Illustrated’s first female “Sportsperson of the Year” since 1983 and the sexiest woman alive―if her latest red carpet look is any indication, that is.

(Feldman)

No, really. Please tell me this is a joke.

Why are you taking part in gendertyping? Why are you reinforcing stereotypes about women’s apperances?

(more…)

The One About the Guy Waving the Confederate Flag and Wanting to Arrest a U.S. Senator for Treason

Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration.  (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times)

It’s just one of those little things you file away for future reference. Hanna Hess of Roll Call mulls militia mutterings in Michigan:

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015.  (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)If Jon Ritzheimer travels to Michigan trying to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow for treason because of her support for the Iran nuclear deal, he may find a line of volunteer militia men guarding the Michigan Democrat.

“This is wrong. It sounds like mob rule to me,” said Lou Vondette, of the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, one of the oldest active militias in the state. “We have no idea what this guy has on his mind,” Vondette said in a phone interview. The threats sound “just as terrifying to [us], as to anyone reading the story.”

Additionally, Mr. Vondette told Roll Call he had been in communication with several other Michigan militia groups and, “We know of no militia in Michigan that is participating in these actions”. He also rebuked out-of-state influences that would claim association.

Jon Ritzheimer, meanwhile, is an Arizona activist with something approaching terrible luck; his imitation “Draw Muhammad” protest was a bust compared to the counterprotest; calling himself an “Oathkeeper”, Mr. Ritzheimer’s latest scheme for attention is to threaten to arrest Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), claiming her support for the P5+1 nuclear accord with Iran constitutes some manner of treason. Judging by Ms. Hess’ earlier report on the desperate menace―

Jon Ritzheimer, the Arizona resident who reportedly attracted FBI attention when he organized an anti-Muslim protest rally and “draw Muhammad” cartoon contest at a Phoenix mosque, shared his plan to organize with fellow U.S. Marines in an open letter posted online Monday.

“We are planning on arresting Senator Debbie Stabenow, who voted yes to the Iran Nuke Deal. She will be arrested for treason under Article 3 Section 3 of the Constitution,” states the letter. “We have chosen her as our first target due to our strong ties with the Michigan State Militia and their lax gun laws that will allow us to operate in a manner necessary for an operation like this.”

Ritzheimer, 31, claims that after successfully detaining the Michigan Democrat, he and his armed militia “will continue to move across the country and arrest everyone involved with the Iran Nuke Deal” including the president.

―we need not wonder why the militias in the Great Lakes State want nothing to do with him.

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Image notes: Top ― Jon Ritzheimer at a 2015 pro-Confederate flag demonstration. (Photo: Miriam Wasser/Phoenix New Times) Left ― Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) speaks after a vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Hess, Hannah. “Militia Organizer Threatens to Arrest Stabenow Over Iran Deal”. Roll Call. 22 September 2015.

—————. “Michigan Militia Group Disavows Threat to Stabenow”. Roll Call. 23 September 2015.