Muellergate Open Thread: All the President’s Minions

So, as it happens, Dave Roth’s done another fine pigbladdering of a most deserving target…

One of the most common misunderstandings about Dumb Guys is that they are not capable of doing things. This is false. They can and in fact absolutely love to do complicated-sounding things like scheme and intrigue. They may not do those things well, and will generally do them in arbitrary and ineffective ways. But they will attack the work of scheming and maneuvering and infighting with all the vigor of a dog trying to carry a too-big tree branch through a doorway…

… It is a common Dumb Guy trait to stop assimilating new information at some moment of great personal success; there is no reason to think that Jon Gruden believes the NFL is any different than it was when he won a Super Bowl in it during George W. Bush’s first term.

The problem is that all that intrigue creates its own sort of paranoid gravity. The Dumb Guy believes that the moment he stops scheming is the moment that he becomes vulnerable, and so must throw himself into constant counter-intrigue and intrigue-maintenance and general amphetamized vigilance. And that, according to Ian Rapoport, is where the Raiders stand today, after Mayock and Gruden sent home the team’s entire scouting department because they “don’t know who to trust.”…

Yeah, not exactly about Our Political Moment. But it certainly could be!

Because if there is one common denominator to the collection of grifters, racists, willing traitors, overconfident scions and all-purpose villains that compose the Oval Office Squatters Squad, it is that they are every one a Dumb Guy, revolving around the Dumb Guy in Chief.

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GOP Malfeasance Open Thread: While We’re Waiting…

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Breaking: Suspect in Custody For Burning Down Three African American Churches in Louisiana

Glad they got him, but the description of the suspect in custody does not surprise me in the least.

From The Daily Beast (emphasis mine):

A 21-year-old named Holden Matthews has been arrested in connection with fires that destroyed three Louisiana churches in the span of two weeks, local news outlet KATC reports.

Throughout the end of March and in early April, three churches in rural St. Landry Parish were burned down. Matthews is reportedly the son of a St. Landry Parish Deputy, and he was booked into St. Landry Parish jail at about 5:30 this evening. Holden’s family declined to comment to The Daily Beast.

On a Facebook page that appears to belong to Matthews, he was active in black metal and pagan pages. Although both scenes are predominately apolitical, both have large neo-Nazi fanbases. Matthews commented on two memes about Varg Vikernes, a far-right (and self-described former neo-Nazi) metal musician who served 15 years in prison for burning churches in Norway and killing a fellow metal musician.

Matthews commented on two memes about Vikernes. Neither comment was particularly revealing, but they indicated his familiarity with the fringe figure. The pagan circles Matthews and Vikernes frequented can be popular with neo-Nazis. Matthews frequently posted about pagan beliefs, and recently uploaded a picture of a gun and a knife with the caption “I carry this…..maybe not legally but I only truly follow the law of Odin….. which says as you said,arm yourself…… Odins advice> modern law.” Odin is a pagan Norse god.

One of the pagan pages Matthews was active on specifically forbade racism and “nazi stuff.” Matthews also appeared aware of the religion’s white supremacist associations. In one post, a group member noted that a drawing of a pagan figure had a swastika-like design on his belt. “well yea the belt gives him extra strength and power…..white power lmao jk jk I had to,” Matthews wrote.”

From KATC Channel 3 (video and picture of Matthews at the link):

The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office, in collaboration with the ATF, FBI, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office and several other local agencies have been investigating suspicious fires at three churches in St. Landry Parish.

US Attorney David Joseph released the following statement on the burnings.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.  A special thanks to St. Landry Parish Sheriff Bobby Guidroz, Louisiana State Fire Marshal, H. “Butch” Browning Jr., Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Cybercrime Unit, the Louisiana State Police, and the Florida State Fire Marshal for working seamlessly with federal law enforcement agents in this investigation.”

The first fire occurred on March 26 at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre. The second occurred at Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2. The third occurred on April 4 at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

I’m sure Candace Owens will be along any time now to explain that these African American churches didn’t burn down and this isn’t domestic terrorism and/or a hate crime and/or the result of white supremacy, because white supremacy is a hoax. She wouldn’t lie to us, would she?

Also, obligatory:

Open thread!

Post-Racial America Open Thread: The GOP’s Latest Dumb-Show

Many, many words were said — but were they ever dumb!

Per the Washington Post:

A tense congressional hearing to explore the spread of white nationalism on social media quickly served to illustrate the problem Silicon Valley faces after anonymous users on YouTube began posting vitriolic attacks that targeted others on the basis of race and religion…

“These Jews want to destroy all white nations,” wrote the user Celtic Pride.

“Anti-hate is a code word for anti-white,” wrote another named Fight White Genocide.

Appearing before the committee, Alexandria Walden, the counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, stressed the tech giant has invested in people and technology to remove content that incites violent or spreads hate. “We know the very platforms that have enabled these societal benefits can be abused,” she said…

“This just illustrates part of the problem we’re dealing with,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the committee, after seeing the Post’s report.

His comment was greeted with skepticism by Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican. “Could that be another hate hoax?” he asked. “Just keep an open mind.”
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The Similarities Are Not Unlikely, the Connections Have Existed for Years, the Idea Held In Common Is Anti-Semitism, and the Facilitating Link is the Internet

On Saturday The BBC published an article entitled The Unlikely Similarities Between the Far Right and IS. The article begins with:

Far-right extremists in Britain have been accessing terrorism material published online by the Islamic State group, counter-terrorism experts have told the BBC.

They say neo-Nazis and other right-wing extremists have been studying methods of attack shared by jihadists with their followers on the internet.

But we should not be surprised that they do share some similarities.

The author then seeks to provide the answers:

Counter-terrorism officers have been using a range of methods, including phone taps, to gather intelligence on what the most violent individuals have been planning or aspiring to do.

In some cases, arrests have been made after suspects have been caught downloading child pornography. But officials say that neo-Nazis and other extremists have also been accessing material to plan attacks published by their ideological enemies, Islamic State.

This may seem strange, but it should not come as a surprise.

Their ideologies may be diametrically opposed to each other but there are some disturbing similarities between them, some of which are obvious, others less so.

He goes on to tick off a list of similarities from intolerance of anyone else’s views first among them. Nado Bakos, more popularly known by the title to her forthcoming book as The Targeter, tweeted out the article without comment:

Marcy Wheeler, more popularly known by the name of her blog EmptyWheel made an interesting reply:

What Wheeler has zeroed in on, and correctly so, is what is missing from the article: historical context about connections between these groups and what facilitated and enabled that connection. Specifically the historical context that can be provided by someone who has been doing comparative research into violent extremists and terrorists since the early 1990s. And that’s where I come in. One of the oldest, and now apparently no longer available, white supremacist websites was named Be Wise as Serpents. You can see a reference to it with a link that does nothing at this page cataloguing these sites at GWU. Be Wise as Serpents was one of the primary websites for the Aryan Nations, which was, at one time, the most active of the Christian Identity groups. It spun off two active terrorist groups: the original The Order and a subsequent group of the same name.  The sites name is derived from Matthew 10:16 and, in addition to having the standard Aryan Nations and Christian Identity information,  conspiracy theories, etc, it also linked to the website of an expatriate Algerian army officer who had fled to Sweden seeking asylum to avoid prosecution for his adherence to an extremist version of Islam. This individual’s website hosted The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, as well as just about every other anti-Semitic conspiracy theory known in the early to mid 90s. He also linked back to the Aryan Nations’ site.

Both of these sites are now defunct, but back when I was still an academic and teaching courses on terrorism and extremism, I would use them as examples in my classroom – first at UF, then at Temple, and then at UCA. The commonality that led these two disparate groups of extremists – white supremacists adhering to a racialized version of Pentacostalism in the US and an Islamic extremist asylee in Sweden – was anti-Semitism, specifically the conspiracy theory that Jews have always and were continuing to manipulate politics, economics, global events, and even non-Jewish religions to their own benefit. What allowed them to link up into a loose and informal network was the Internet.

As Wheeler’s commentary by tweet so accurately points out, this is not unlikely at all and the reporter downplays the likelihood/possibility of coordination even though that is not an accurate assessment. That’s because the coordination, even as innocuous as being able to easily and quickly access information to both confirm and further one’s own extremist views, has been going on for a very, very long time.  The coordination is really all about the sharing of ideas. The Be Wise as Serpents site eventually went defunct as the Aryan Nations came apart from both the lawsuits filed against it by The Southern Poverty Law Center, the death of its longtime leader Richard Gurnt Butler after a period of scandal*, and the fighting by those claiming to be his successors. I have no idea what happened to the guy in Sweden. But these connections, and the directions of influence, go back to the earliest days of the Internet, which facilitated linkages between individuals and groups that would otherwise be considered strange bedfellows. Because as different as white supremacy and racialized Christianity may be from the various extremist versions of Islam, they do have one commonality in their extremism and conspiracism: the anti-Semitic belief that the Jews are manipulating politics, the economy, global events, even other religions for the sinister benefits of the Jews. And, perhaps more importantly, these connections and the influence they facilitate among extremists of different backgrounds, are going strong in 2019.

Open thread!

* Butler, in his final years of life, got involved with and, according to some reports had married, Wendy Iwanow, who was describing herself at the time as an Aryan Princess and tattoo artist. Iwanow was better known by her professional name Bianca Trump, The Latin Princess of Porn, who had starred in such classics as Brassiere to Eternity.