Militias in the Mitten State

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S1: The following content could, in fact, be explicit, contain moments of explicit, reflexive, explicative sure trace elements of explication. Actually, that last one’s goal and.

S2: It’s Monday, January 11th, 20 21 from Slate, it’s the gist. I’m Mike Pesca. Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, has distinguished himself among his Republican colleagues for along with Lisa Murkowski, saying the president should resign immediately but to get inside the mindset of keeping Trump’s harshest critics who still identify as Republicans.

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S3: Listen to his last answer to Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this Sunday.

S2: You regret your vote for president now?

S4: Now, knowing what I knew then, I think as the 75 million Americans making this evaluation between this radicalization of the Democratic Party and an administration that had very significant successes, I understand and I this is it is a rational decision. Not nobody could have anticipated what has happened, I don’t think, subsequent to the election.

S3: Well, I think some people could have anticipated it. Tons of political science professors, many journalists, almost all Democratic politicians, including some who I would go so far as to call household names Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, but also lots of Republicans, many of whom ran against Trump.

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S5: Like Rick Perry, he offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trump is a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.

S6: Or Marco Rubio, you have a candidate and Donald Trump, who clearly has used language that appeals to anger and in some instances has actually said to the crowd, let’s beat this person out for let’s do this or let’s do that.

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S3: So it shouldn’t surprise us that you see a growing amount of violence as some of his events, even his biggest enabler, Ted Cruz.

S7: But in any campaign responsibility starts at the top. Any candidate is responsible for the culture of the campaign. And when you have a campaign that disrespects the voters, when you have a campaign that affirmatively encourages violence, when you have a campaign that is facing allegations of physical violence against members of the press, you create an environment.

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S3: That only encourages this sort of nastiness, the remarkable thing isn’t what these men did to predict the consequences of Trump’s thuggery, that it would result in mass thuggishness because many, many, many other people predicted that. The remarkable thing is what happened when these guys really spot on. Predictions ran smack into the ambitions of the individuals in question. Perry took a job in Trump’s cabinet. Cruz infamously became the force in the Senate, along with Josh Haley, who was prodding along the lines of a stolen election. And Marco Rubio today is in the unity caucus. He is calling for unity. Let’s have unity. OK, I would agree to unity. We all can unify in removing Donald Trump, but also maybe along the way calling out our own sins and failings in allowing him to get where he did. Oh, wait, that’s not the unity. You mean Rubio is is a unity of not forgiving, but kind of forgetting and definitely forgetting what the Republicans did, that Republican senators specifically had the power to prevent Trump from doing any of this and that they failed to do so. There is literally no Republican senator, maybe with the exception of Mitt Romney, who has done the right thing. In fact, let’s go beyond that. They haven’t done the right thing. They all actively did the wrong thing. Almost all continue to do the wrong thing and tell themselves a demonstrably false story about how no one could have seen it coming on the show today. I spiel about those out of the way, hard to find niche media outposts that are still allowing the perpetuation of grievance narratives and big lies as concerns. The last election, those outposts there called every radio and podcast player in America. But first, Dana Nessel is the attorney general of Michigan. She has a lot on her plate. She has announced a desire to pursue lawyers behind frivolous lawsuits over the election. But before she can get to that, they have a militia problem in Michigan, a problem that predicted or should have the one we’re all staggered by on the national stage.

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S1: There’s an old saying that the states are laboratories for democracy, quaint, but somewhat true, but if that’s the case, we’re finding out they can also be very little laboratories for insurgency. Michigan has battled insurgents seeking to kidnap their governor, overthrow the state. It is actually one of only three states that has absolutely no laws or protections concerning the carrying of weapons into the state capital. Days ago, a bomb threat was called into the capital and the state attorney general told citizens to stay away from the state house. It is not safe. Imagine that the attorney general of Michigan, the Nestl, is on the line with me. Thanks for joining me. Thanks for having me. So the statehouse, a place where guns are allowed in the gallery where legislators have decried that fact, but nothing has been done to fix it. Can there be a prosecutorial or legal solution if there’s no political one to this problem?

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S8: Well, just within the last few hours, actually, the Michigan Capital Commission actually passed a resolution that was enacted immediately to at least ban the open carrying of weapons. So that’s that’s, ah, just a brand new development. And I will tell you well, I’m grateful that something was done as opposed to absolutely nothing, which has been the case for many years. My perspective is that does not go far enough. And as you indicated, we have a problem with extremism all across the country, but nowhere is that the case, more so than what we’re seeing in the state of Michigan right now in terms of white supremacy groups, militia organizations and extremist groups in general. And we know for a fact that these are individuals who want to overthrow the government and seek to do harm to our state legislators. And in fact, part of the plot to overturn the governor, one of the options that they were closely evaluating was either to blow up the Capitol or to take siege over the Capitol. So the fact that they allowed firearms in the building or on capitol grounds at all, I think creates what is still a very dangerous situation.

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S9: Right. And you can still have concealed carry, which is in many ways more dangerous, at least with open carry, you know, who has the gun. And let’s also point out that I have read the indictments of those individuals.

S1: A couple of them met during a protest at the Capitol. So it’s not just a benign exercise of First Amendment rights even that can lead to a nexus of terrorism.

S8: Yeah, I think it’s encouraging. When you saw the scenes that we had last April where armed gunmen stormed the Capitol. I think it’s fair to say they overtook the Capitol and that they were present in every just about every space. They actually tried to burst in to the House floor chamber. There was really a precursor to what we saw at the nation’s capitol last week. They didn’t ultimately start shooting. They didn’t ultimately begin to harm our state legislators or other personnel. But I think that there were probably those who were involved at the scene at the nation’s capitol in D.C. last week that watched that. But, wow, that’s really not that hard. It’s actually fairly easy to overtake the Capitol and it probably inspired them. I know for a fact that there were some of the same people that were at the Michigan Capitol last April that took place in this siege of the United States Capitol last week.

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S9: So was what we saw at the US Capitol less surprising to you than it was to many others?

S10: I you know, it’s still shocking when you actually see it happening live. But was I surprised? No, I was not, unfortunately. And, you know, that’s why it’s just so baffling to me that we’re not taking every conceivable measure to protect these spaces. Understanding that these groups want to overthrow the government. Doesn’t matter if you’ve got a D next to your name or an R next to your name. And I’ve said this many times, you’re up in the gallery of the state Senate or the state House and you get a firearm up there. You don’t have a D or an R emblazed into the back of your your hairline or something anyway. Right. I mean, they’re just going to shoot to kill as many people as they can and they don’t care what party you’re from and and none of these groups do. That’s not of interest to them.

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S9: Yeah. And of course, as you said, one of the plots was a bombing plot, which discriminates even less than that. Do you think one of the tools we need is a federal domestic terrorism statute?

S10: Absolutely. And I will tell you very candidly that in evaluating what charges were to be brought against those that plotted to kidnap and execute the governor, part of the calculation, that was the fact that the feds were limited in terms of what kinds of types of cases they could bring because there is no domestic terrorism. So absolutely. That needs to be. By Congress, and I hope so that with the new Congress and of course with the new president coming in, that will be something that they take care of swiftly.

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S9: Here’s a quote from the Chamas, who’s an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights quoted in The Intercept. Anyone familiar with the scope of surveillance and targeting of black political dissent or Muslim communities knows that law enforcement has all the tools it needs to aggressively disrupt and hold accountable those who planned and participated in the storming of the Capitol. Why they didn’t raise a serious questions, but it’s not because their hands were tied. We don’t need new terrorism designations. So I just quote that as a means of asking you, what about the civil liberties concerns?

S11: Well, certainly there are a number of civil liberties concerns, and I look forward to having a Department of Justice that cares about those things. Again, I’m going to say this when it comes to things like investigating pattern or practice issues with, for instance, local police departments. That is something that was traditionally done by DOJ. Can you guess how many cases were investigated under the Trump administration?

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S3: I know how this goes rhetorically. Dozens, I’ll say dozens. But you shocked me with the real answer.

S11: Would you be surprised to learn the number is zero zero cases? And that is the first time I think anybody I can remember has not pursued those types of actions. You know, I think it lends itself to the concern. And this is a concern that I’ve had in Michigan, especially with our Constitutional Sheriffs Association. I am concerned about ensuring that those who are members of law enforcement are not in any way, shape or form sympathetic to those who wish to overthrow the government or those who want white supremacy organizations. And one of the things that was incredibly concerning to me look no further than the Berry County sheriff, who not only stood on stage with our Senate majority leader and with militia members who some of whom were later to be indicted in that plot to kidnap the governor and openly joked about murdering Governor Wittmer, openly joked about it and everybody laughed. And then later, later, when when these individuals were charged, he jumped to their defense immediately and extended the the possibility that they were acting appropriately under the law if they were making a citizen’s arrest of the governor, which, of course, is not a lot in any way, shape or form in Michigan. But it’s very concerning. And these are the things that need to be rooted out by the Department of Justice.

S9: And there is a nexus between that very Sheriff Da Leaf and another of your initiatives. I read that you were seeking sanctions against those who have knowingly filed frivolous lawsuits. And in fact, he was one. I read a little bit about this. I think federally it’s under rule 11 and you can sanction a lawyer who knowingly brings a frivolous lawsuit but doesn’t. I just wonder if it’s a hard case to prove because it gets into the actual mindset of the lawsuit. And the second part of that question is, might that have a chilling effect on legitimate lawsuits even that are seen as long shots at the time? Like I think of the lawsuits against cigarette companies. You know, they started to be brought in the 1950s and they were laughed out of court then until they weren’t.

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S11: Oh, I disagree with that entirely, because the premise upon why these suits are meritless or frivolous is because they contain fraudulent information that cannot in any way, shape or form be verified. So, for instance, if you are making a claim that one of the reasons why the state board of electors should not have certified the election in Michigan is because of mass voting inaccuracies in Edison County. Now Edison County, not only does that not exist in the state of Michigan, it’s not even a county anywhere in the United States of America.

S10: So that’s the kind of thing where if you’re going to make that claim and you can easily verify whether it’s true or not, then it’s a meritless lawsuit. Right. Or if you want to make a claim that there is a second set of electors that was legitimately selected to represent Donald Trump for our 16 electors in Michigan, we know that that’s untrue. That is factually inaccurate in every way, shape or form. You can’t argue that it is true. It’s not just one quote unquote alternative set of facts. As Kellyanne Conway might have said, it is a blatant lie. So you have a responsibility when you are filing a lawsuit not to have your name associated with a lawsuit that contains verifiably false inaccuracies of that nature. So you can’t argue that these are legitimate lawsuits. And the other thing I would add is that some of these lawsuits are mere repetitions of earlier lawsuits where even the claims that you could initially in your first lawsuit say, well, we’re not certain about that. By the time you get to the 3rd or the 5th, that’s. Lawsuit, you’ve already had testimony or you’ve already had affidavits that have debunked those claims. So now you already know that’s true by the time you are filing additional lawsuits. So I think it’s very easy to say that these are frivolous, they are meritless, that they are a waste of the court’s time, and that they are beneath the dignity of our justice system.

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S9: I have a list in front of me of about a dozen of the lawsuits that the state of Michigan handled and they all lost to some of them were decided by a two to one rejection by the Court of appeals. Maybe just the presence of that one vote would indicate that it’s less than meritless. So are you saying that not all of these lawsuits would be subject to sanctions, but some of them would be? And might the so-called cracken lawsuit filed by Sidney Powell will be among that, those that would be subject to sanction?

S10: Yeah, I would say that the not not every single one of them what I said would be sanctionable, but many of them would be including the Sydney Powell lawsuit that was filed.

S9: OK, and my last question is not strictly as a law enforcement officer in Michigan, but a theory of law enforcement. As I look at the thousands of people, maybe many hundreds, if not thousands of people who stormed the Capitol, they are arresting some of the most prominent and easy to identify.

S1: But I’m of the opinion that every single one of those people should be charged with some crime. Do you think that that is proper? And do you think if that happens, will the effect be that that will radicalise some of those communities? Or will the effect be, as I hope it will be, sort of a reassertion of what the norms of society are?

S10: Yeah, I mean, they’re committing illegal acts. They stormed the Capitol. They entered the capital illegally. Many of them, of course, once they got into the capital, committed property crimes, theft, related crimes. And of course, I think it’s appropriate to suggest that their reason for entering the capital in the first place was seditious in nature and an attempt to overthrow the government. But irrespective, you didn’t enter the capital without having committed one or more or in some instances, multiple crimes. Absolutely. Each one of these people that can be identified should be held responsible. We can’t say that there are two sets of laws in this country in terms of them applying or not applying. And as long as you thought you were in the right, it’s OK. No matter what you do, we absolutely have to apply the law evenly and it must be applied to each and every person who violated the law.

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S9: Dana Nessel is the attorney general for the state of Michigan. Thanks so much. Thanks for having me.

S12: And now remembrances of things.

S1: Terrorism use or threat of violence to achieve a political ends, by that definition, our president has had a tough time calling out terrorists. He’s had an easier time in some ways, calling two terrorists the ones he considers to be special people.

S3: There are exceptions to Trump’s blind spots, a soft spot when it comes to terrorism, and that is whenever terrorism is perpetuated by an Islamic extremist or sometimes when it’s not literally actually and factually perpetrated by anyone.

S13: You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden, Sweden. Who would believe this? Sweden?

S1: Well, you know, who wouldn’t have thought? Sweden, Sweden, Sweden. The president’s reference baffled the Swedes. There were no attacks the night before. He said that in a speech in 2017, great sport was had on social media with Swedes posting videos of the supposed attacks, including dogs vigorously licking their owners and footage of IKEA furniture failing. The president’s press secretary claimed he meant in general, there’s lawlessness in Sweden. The president made her look like a dummy for trying to walk it back when he claimed vindication for getting it right, after all, because he said a riot, a big riot did happen a few days later. This, by the way, is not how the temporal plane works. But Trump was undeterred, mentioning his perspicacity in noting the Swedish attacks before they happened. At a press conference with the Swedish prime minister, he answered a Swedish reporter’s question this way.

S13: Certainly you have a problem with the immigration. It’s caused problems in Sweden. I was one of the first ones to say it took a little heat, but that was OK because I proved to be right.

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S1: Just a quick review not of how Swedish terrorism works, but how reality works, saying something happened that didn’t happen. But then when something kind of like that thing does happen, it doesn’t make you right in the first place. It’s an example of being wrong. This is where it’s useful. By the way, if you want to consider yourself right or be considered right, it’s useful to build a very large ecosystem that enables and amplifies people who are dedicated to the proposition that you can never be wrong. It’s useful in case you want to empower, say, a cult, a terroristic cult, a.k.a. very special people.

S12: This has been remembrances of things strong.

S3: And now the spiel, President Trump’s off Facebook, Parla is off Amazon and Twitter has not only stopped Trump from further incitement, it seems to be pretty assiduous about tamping down his actual account, his friend’s accounts, burner accounts. But you know what means of expression has somehow slipped past the censorious arm of private media corporations? Well, yes, Gabb and Acharn and other encrypted sites that take some technical know how to navigate and permission from those inside to get access to. But there’s also another one out there. And by out there, I mean everywhere in the airwaves, like seventy ABC.

S14: Well, let’s first go to the assault on the capital, because obviously that’s getting a lot more attention and it’s being very much portrayed as somehow caused by Donald Trump.

S3: It’s outrageous and it’s manipulated and it was probably planned in advance, of course, was planned in advance, that’s been amply documented plan by followers of Donald Trump, followers who believe the lies of Donald Trump and the speaker.

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S1: You heard there, Rudy Giuliani, who hosts a daily radio show on Seventy-Seven ABC. He also has a podcast where he spreads these lies. And if you forget what the lies were, he’s pleased to repeat them regularly on the public airwaves. The FCC granted airwaves, ABC, owned by John Catsimatidis, said to be the leading candidate for Republican nominee for mayor of New York. It’s out there. No one seems to want to shut it down. Tens of thousands, maybe over 100000 people. Listen to each of these shows. Here is what he was saying on this radio show, on the podcast thereof, the day after the assault on the capital and the people breaking into the capital.

S14: The people who are breaking in who I guess didn’t realize that the police would allow them in. I mean, they walked a few steps over, the police would have let them come through the gate and they’re trying to break the window open and the one scene that we see. The Trump people yelling at them. The yelling at them, identifying them as antifa and then, in fact, one brave guy who should be singled out.

S15: Should be singled out for his bravery. What is RedHat on?

S14: Surrounded by antifa people, and you know what happens when that happens, they beat the hell out of you. He pulls the guy down and he keeps them down. There’s a reason you haven’t seen that video because this is a setup. It’s tragic what we’re allowing to happen in our country. And I’m going to say it and I’m going to keep saying it until the day I die.

S15: I have often contradicted proof.

S1: That this election was stolen, I was curious in general to hear how right wing radio would spin this. I didn’t think there would be a scintilla of soul searching or accountability, and I knew I would find rampant accusations of this being a false flag operation, this being the work of antifa. But I also knew I would find other more insidious arguments, false equivalencies, whatever it takes to keep telling a diluted lie to audience that they are still in the right, that this changes nothing. If anything, this confirms what we’ve been saying all along. Dan Bongino, a former NYPD officer, also worked in the Secret Service, has a huge following. He is a huge Trump backer. He did not look at the lawlessness as being the fault of Trump supporters. He saw it and told his audience that it was the fault of liberals and the media, like he’s always been saying.

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S16: I’ve been warning you about this for a long time. If you’re listening to the show, you know that no need to play old clips of myself to prove what I’m telling you is true. If you’ve been here for a while, you’ve heard it in the past. I’ve been warning about this propensity for people in the media and on the other side of the political aisle to normalize political violence.

S15: We can never, ever, ever normalize political violence.

S17: Then there’s Charlie Cook, who made his name is founder of the campus right wing organization Turning Point USA, also a huge Trump backer. He knew to keep his comments on Twitter within the range of the acceptable. Here’s a tweet from January 6th. Our side shouldn’t act like an TIFA. If these reports are true of what’s happening in the capital, it is no way to protest no matter who is doing it. But on his radio show podcast, Hours into the mayhem of January 6th, he wasn’t saying the Marauder shouldn’t act like an TIFA.

S3: He was saying they sure seem like they are antifa.

S18: I mean, if you’re if you’re going to just do a little bit of just this is logic here. I got to agree with it. Like, these folks kind of do look like antifa, like in Trump gear. I’m not saying I have any proof. I’m not saying I have any proof.

S1: Rudy Giuliani currently has the 15th most. Listen to a podcast on the iTunes chart. Kurk, the eighth Bungeni, the third Bungeni. His podcast is syndicated by Westwood One. The very day he was blaming the media and the left and further perpetuating the lie that the election had been stolen. The CEO of Westwood One wrote in an internal memo, quote, We need to help induce national calm. Now, we will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended, the election has been resolved and there are no alternative acceptable paths. Bongino, for one, has not been brought to heel. He is still talking about the totalitarian left causing a national security crisis amid plugs for parlor in which he has a financial interest.

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S17: Rush Limbaugh has not ended his dishonest assertion that the election was stolen. And Rudy Giuliani, now banned from YouTube, has taken to posting his videos on his own website under the banner banned by YouTube. The contents of this banned video rested on a few frenzied iPhone clips of people outside the Capitol who had attended the rally saying they saw Antifa at work and that they heard Antifa whispering to each other during the riot that they were trying to make Trump supporters look bad.

S3: Giuliani used this video as a workaround YouTube censorship to spread this message, this important message that YouTube didn’t want you to hear.

S17: The rally was magnificent. It was quite beautiful. I mean, it was a rally of love. It is actually an almost impossible feat to totally rein in dangerous voices. And to be clear, the government should not be participating in that effort. But private enterprise doesn’t need to do business with or be embedded with actors they find loathsome. And that is indeed what high profile media companies have decided. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it civically. It’s not worth the bottom line interests to continue to do business with these people. But low profile, yet still highly influential media companies, not obscure media companies, media companies that everyone has access to at the touch of a button.

S1: They haven’t been able to do what Twitter and Facebook has. Even when a CEO issued a directive. It’s unclear that there is any enforcement mechanism at play as a podcast or I know that the word in audio form sometimes goes under the radar, that a tweet is easy to point to and pass around a record for outsiders to easily discern and be shocked by. But many twenty or minute, one hour or two hour 45, a long radio program or long podcast can often escape such scrutiny, but it is no less pernicious or dishonest. In fact, there is a bond between speaker and listener that’s often a lot stronger than between Twitter and Tweedy’s. So if it is the right and proper thing for media companies to rethink their role in broadcasting truly harmful propaganda, well, it’s not such a leap to think that literal broadcasters might want to get in on that reckoning as well.

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S2: And that’s it for Today Show that just is produced by Shayna Roth, who is appalled by that harrowing incident in Pittsburgh last night. And Margaret Kelly also can’t believe Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, of all places, Pittsburgh, where that could have happened. We had help this week. Once more from Jasmyn Ellis, the executive producer of Slate podcasts is Alicia Montgomery, who says that whatever audio glitches you heard in today’s show, it kind of seemed like the hallmark of what next? She’s not saying they are, but if there’s a weird edit or someone takes an extra breath, it seems like the kind of thing what next would do. Just say the gist. There’s now reporting that Kansas City based company Hallmark has requested a refund of their campaign contributions to Senators Roger Marshall and Josh Hawley of Kansas and Missouri, respectively. Hallmark, of course, said it very tastefully with a card read on the outside Hallmark requests refund of our box and on the inside just says we realize you two were a couple of schmucks. And then there’s a nice painting of flowers. Also a money holder when you care enough to refund from the very worst. Who? Adepero to Peru. And thanks for listening.