Today in Domestic Terrorism and Stochastic Violence

This week the weekly phone in bomb threat to multiple Jewish Community Centers and synagogues came a day early. Instead of Tuesday, the preferred day for the last several week’s worth of calls, the caller moved it to Monday. Perhaps to capture the festive spirit of Presidents’ Day.

WHITEFISH BAY — Officials with the Village of Whitefish Bay say a bomb threat was called into the Jewish Community Center at 10:08 a.m. on Monday, February 20th.

The Jewish Community Center posted on its Facebook page, Twitter account and its website that the facility was “safely evacuated.”

A limited number of students were at the center because of the holiday. Other guests who were on site using the gym and pool facilities were also evacuated.

Police say the center was cleared by bomb sniffing dogs. The “all clear” was issued around 12:30 p.m. — after the sweep of the building.

This appears to be one of several threats made to Jewish community centers around the country on Monday.

There was also a threat called into the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, AL.

The Levite Jewish Community Center was briefly evacuated Monday morning after receiving a bomb threat. Many parents picked their children up from the child care facility.

Authorities have given the all-clear now, and staff and students are now back in the building.

A Birmingham police officer said there have been several of these threats across the U.S. today.

The JCC has received bomb threats before, including one in mid-January.

The FBI has been investigating threats to Jewish centers in Alabama and several other states.

Both the Whitefish Bay and Birmingham JCCs received similar phoned in threats in January.

Here’s what I think the security issues are going forward:

1) We’ve got some knucklehead who gets his gratification calling these in and seeing the news coverage. He may or may not be a hard core anti-Semite, but he’s basically in it for ego gratification. And based on decades of criminological research into deviance, delinquency, and offending, it is highly likely it is a he. So step up your game ladies! He may or may not even be in the US, given VOIP technology. And he may never intend to do anything but make these calls.

2) Or he intends to eventually escalate. Specifically after he feels that he has made enough of these, or other copycats have, to create a sense of complacency for the folks at the JCCs and synagogues. Basically emergency alert fatigue. At that point he actually plants a bomb at one of these locations because he figures he’s got a reasonable expectation of casualties because the threats have become commonplace and are no longer being taken seriously.

3) Or, even worse, he never originally intended to escalate, but because the threats have become commonplace the coverage drops way off. He doesn’t get his gratification and as a result escalates in order to get his rush. Basic addictive behavior pattern. Also, serial criminal pattern.

4) Or, also even worse, he never intends to escalate beyond calling in the threats, but someone else who does want to do real, physical damage to property and harm to people does. This individual or individuals waits until the coverage begins to drop off because the calls are every week or every other week like clockwork and the local news decides it needs to cover something more important. And then this person that wants to cause real harm and actually hurt people decides its time to strike because complacency has set in and some synagogue or JCC isn’t going to take the threat as seriously.

And I fully expect that this pattern will at some point be fully extended to mosques and Hispanic and Asian churches, as well as Sikh temples. I know that the Hispanic and Asian churches in my area have seen an increase in both vandalism and threats, just as the synagogues and mosques have, because they are viewed as immigrant places (of worship) and therefore acceptable targets despite being churches.

Updated at 6:15 PM EST

Thanks to commenter Timurid, this also happened today:

I cannot emphasize enough just how bad this is. Not the property damage, in and of itself that’s bad, but because ground that has been the site of violence cannot be sanctified/re-sanctified. Provided that this is just cosmetic damage to the headstones – defacing, being knocked over, etc – there should be no problem. But if the graves themselves have been desecrated, then it will require reburials and the spaces will never be able to be reused as Judaism prohibits reusing a grave. This means that if someone has to be reburied in another plot, then the final resting place and marker/memorial will either be aware from the remainder of their relations graves or everyone will have to be relocated. This is not only traumatic for the living, but becomes prohibitively expensive to deal with.



Chew on This Open Thread: April Ryan Is Not Trump’s African-American

Donald Trump tells us that he is the least racist person ever. I would say ‘Donald Trump believes he is the least racist person’, but I’m chary of putting ‘Trump’ and ‘belief’ in the same sentence.

April Ryan, incidentally, is not Donald Trump’s ‘girl’ either (in the Mad Men ‘my girl will set it up with your girl’ sense)…



Today in Domestic Terrorism: Exceedingly Pale Edition

Oh look, its a fine example of the “Master Race”!

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A man with connections to a white supremacy group was arrested in Myrtle Beach Wednesday after purchasing a gun from an undercover FBI agent, apparently intending to commit an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof.”

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, from Conway, was arrested at around 5 p.m. Wednesday by the FBI, according to records from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

On December 26, 2016, McDowell posted to Facebook a message: “I love love to act what u think,” followed by a link to the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue in Myrtle Beach, according to court documents. Horry County Police indicated to the FBI that McDowell had established White Supremacy Extremist connections while serving in prison in South Carolina for various criminal offenses. He also had tattoos indicating an affiliation with these groups.

Dylann Roof, also a member of the “Master Race”, was actually referenced in Mr. McDowell’s planning:

According to the federal complaint document, on January 5, 2017, McDowell posted to Facebook an anti-semetic screed referencing Dylann Roof, which included the statement: “they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline and trying to run us off of this Earth you can post pictures of f****** Viking and swords all the s*** you want to post if you ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did you need to shut the f*** up…”

Well done FBI.

I’ll leave the penultimate remarks to Congressman Schiff (D-CA):

And, as always, we leave the final say to 18 U.S. Code § 2331

(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.



Open Thread: Betsy DeVos Celebrates Black History Month

There is no depth to which the Wingnut Wurlitzer will not stoop, because they are devoid of shame — and they assume their fellows have no memory of history. Norman Rockwell was not on your side, idiots!



Saturday Morning Open Thread: #NotAllPatsPlayers

(Nick Anderson via GoComics.com)
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From NYMag, “‘I Don’t Feel Welcome in That House’: At Least 6 Patriots Plan to Skip Visit With Trump“:

Just five days out from the Super Bowl, the number of New England Patriots who have declared their intention to skip the team’s celebratory visit to the White House has jumped to six. So much for the Patriots being Trump’s team.

The first two players to say they’d sit out the White House reception did so shortly after the win. And both tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty made it clear that Trump was the reason why. Asked if he was concerned about the response from Trump-supporting Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Bennett said he wasn’t “worried at all.”

The four players who have since joined Bennett and McCourty have given a range of reasons…

Then there’s Chris Long, the only white Patriots player to publicly announce his plans to skip the White House. The defensive end, who publicly spoke out in favor of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his national-anthem protest earlier this year, wrote on Twitter that he’s “skipping” the visit…

At this rate, Tom Brady might have to go see his pal all alone.

I’d expect President-Asterisk Smallgloves to throw a tantrum and cancel the whole event, but I don’t think he can bear to skip a chance to be on the teevee hugging even a C-list celebrity Tom Brady. Maybe he’ll ask Tom to bring Mrs. Brady (who, since she seems to be the smarter one in that relationship, would no doubt find herself ‘busy with other commitments’).
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Apart from jeering the opposition, what’s on the agenda for the day?



Thursday Morning Open Thread: Fighting the White Snowflakes

We’re due for the first serious snowstorm of the season here north of Boston (12-15″ currently predicted), so if I’m not here this evening, either I’m busy shoveling or the power has gone out. Or both!

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A path to start fighting back against Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and his racist enablers:



Wednesday Evening Open Thread: The Trump Cabal, On Beyond Shameless

Used to be, an elderly racist like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions would be required to festoon his confirmation hearing with platitudes about ‘youthful indiscretions’ and ‘having learned better since then’. But this gang can’t even permit themselves such rags of hypocrisy, because the official GOP line is that racism is good and honorable — so much so, even discussing racism is an offense against honor. You know what happened, last time that was true for Congressmen?

As I noted last night, tensions escalated over the gag rule to the point where a South Carolina senator attempted to murder a Massachusetts senator on the floor of the Senate chamber. I doubt the current GOP Senators have anyone with that level of conviction in their ranks, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the security teams weren’t being a little extra alert right now.