The Non-Visible Networks behind the More Visible Networks of Fascism

There’s an RT posted at the Guccifer 2.0 Twitter account in 2016 that has always puzzled me: a stupid meme, posted on Labor Day, about what unemployed people do on Labor Day.

Virtually all Guccifer 2.0’s other public Tweets served to sustain a cover story about the hack-and-leak operation and its tie to WikiLeaks, disseminate stolen documents, or network with those who might be used to disseminate stolen documents. This RT does not do that — at least not obviously — and it deviates from the BernieBro culture adopted by the Guccifer persona up to that point. It suggests either there was an unseen tie to far right meme culture, or that someone had access to this account who was part of it.

The RT is especially interesting given that three different GRU indictments (DNC, Anti-Doping, Macron Leaks) adopt different approaches in discussing the dissemination of the documents stolen by GRU, which I’ve addressed here and here. In 2016, the Guccifer persona cultivated ties with Roger Stone and Alex Jones and released select files (on Black Lives Matter) to then-Breitbart, future-Sputnik writer Lee Stranahan. By the time of the Macron Leaks in May 2017, Jack Posobiec played an even more central, overt role in the leak part of the operation, via still unidentified Latvian account. But this meme suggests some other tie in real time.

Keep this RT in mind as you read the following discussion, about the extent to which much of what we visibly see in the Republican slide to fascism is just the public manifestation of a far more instrumental and far uglier infrastructure that exists in chat rooms.

Some of what we know about the 2016 state of that infrastructure comes from exhibits introduced at the Douglass Mackey trial. On the very same day Guccifer 2.0 RTed that meme, for example, the trolls in the Madman Twitter DM list were pushing memes to push a narrative, one picked up from Trump, that Hillary Clinton was unwell and might not make the election — a narrative about a Democrat replicated, with far greater success, in this election.

White nationalists plotted in private about how to get minorities to turn on Democrats. They explicitly focused on ways to affect turnout in ways that could swing the election.

As I’ve written here and here, the far right efforts to set a narrative that would (and did) help Trump win the presidency started over a year before the election. Both Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer — the webmaster for Daily Stormer — and Microchip worked hard in early months to professionalize the effort. They planned campaigns that would bridge from reddit, 4Chan, and The Donald onto Twitter, including efforts that started at Daily Stormer. This effort was transnational: the trolls reached back to efforts made during Brexit and looked ahead to EU elections, and planned to build a bigger bot army. They complained about Twitter’s shoddy efforts to moderate and plotted ways to defeat any moderation.

The effort by far right trolls to hijack the virality of Twitter to get mainstream journalists to echo their far right themes had at least two direct ties to Trump’s campaign. Anthime “Baked Alaska” Gionet, whom Microchip alerted when the FBI first came calling, claimed to be part of a Trump campaign Slack, to which he invited others.

More importantly, Don Jr has confessed he was part of this network (curiously, when the Mackey took the stand at trial, he claimed to know nothing about the identities of his unindicted co-conspirators. As I have noted, there’s a troll in that channel who used the moniker P0TUSTrump and whom other trolls called Donald that was pushing hashtags pushing stolen documents on the same days Don Jr was doing so on his eponymous Twitter account. From there, trolls like Microchip made them go viral. If P0TUSTrump is Don Jr, then, it shows that he was a key channel between WikiLeaks through this far right channel to make things go viral.

Between 2016 and 2020, people associated with this far right group orchestrated PizzaGate, may have had a hand in QAnon, and helped disseminated documents stolen by GRU from Emmanuel Macron. PizzaGate and QAnon served as powerful recruiting narratives. I’ve shown how Doug Jensen, the QAnoner who chased Officer Eugene Goodman up the Senate stairs on January 6, went from a lifelong union Democrat to hating Hillary to throwing away his life in QAnon to attacking the Capitol via that process of radicalization. Early prosecutions, at least, suggested that QAnon was actually more successful at getting bodies where they could obstruct the vote certification than the militias.

But even as that cult narrative of QAnon was radicalizing people from all walks of life, the same network was replicating networks of more overtly partisan, paramilitary mobilization.

I suppose I or someone else should draw a network map of this.

But we know that Roger Stone had a Signal list call Friends of Stone, which included among its 47 members Stewart Rhodes, Enrique Tarrio, Ali Alexander, and Owen Shroyer, along with anti-vaxxers, Bundyists, Mike Flynn associate Ivan Raiklin, and longtime aides Jacobs Engels and Tyler Ziolkowski (who, along with Tarrio, were both implicated in the meme targeting Amy Berman Jackson during Stone’s prosecution).

Both Rhodes and Tarrio ran parallel sets of communication leading up to the insurrection — more public, accessible communications, and more select lists (on Signal in Rhodes’ case and on Telegram in Tarrio’s) that planned for the operation. Unlike Twitter, Signal and Telegram would only be accessible to law enforcement after exploiting the phones on which they were used, and only then if the comms hadn’t been successfully deleted.

Tarrio would also be networked into the Latinos for Trump group, along with Bianca Gracia and Oath Keeper Kellye SoRelle, with whom he visited the White House in December 2020 and both of whom were present for the parking garage meeting Tarrio had with Rhodes on January 5, 2021. One court filing submitted in advance of the trial of the cop who allegedly tipped off Tarrio to his arrest shows Tarrio also has a “Christian Nationalist” group that officer Shane Lamond joined on November 9, 2020. Another filing shows how Lamond warned Tarrio about investigations into Harry’s Bar and the Proud Boys organizing on Parler.

Ali Alexander and Brandon Straka provided the January 6 Committee (entirely unreliable) descriptions of the all-important Stop the Steal threads on which Alexander organized — first — early mob scenes at state capitols and then events around January 6 itself (though unlike Alexander, who fully attributed getting the brand from Roger Stone, Straka disclaimed knowledge of all that). Straka did acknowledge that Paul Gosar had ties to the Stop the Steal effort. The sentencing memorandum for Alan Hostetter, a key player in the SoCal anti-vax community with ties to 3Percenters, actually contacted Alexander on December 16, 2020, to suggest Stop the Steal organize a rally for January 6, though it’s not clear via what channel he knew him. While the leaders of the Stop the Steal effort were on Twitter until a late move to Signal (again, if we can believe unreliable J6C testimony), it spawned a massive viral effort on other platforms, including Facebook.

In addition to being the big draw for the donation from Publix heir Julie Fancelli, Alex Jones has his own media infrastructure. Organizers claim some percentage — a fifth or a third — of those at the Capitol were there for Jones, not Trump. Like Alexander, he also mobilized the earlier mobs in the states.

It’s not entire clear how Baked Alaska continues to fit into this network. But in order to avoid felony charges (as Straka had earlier), he reportedly agreed to share the kind of network information that would further elucidate these networks.

And that network of lists and threads maps onto this one, the list of people who, in 2020, were the most effective at spreading disinformation on Twitter.

We just don’t know via what chat rooms and threads they map, who else is in that map, and what international ties they have.

What kind of chat rooms did Don Jr inhabit, four years after he networked with Douglass Mackey, that helped him direct a broader network to make false claims go viral? Today, as Ric Grenell — Trump’s troll turned Ambassador to Germany turned Acting Director of National Intelligence — returns from supporting a coup attempt in Guatemala, what international networks was he mobilizing?

I’m always most fascinated by the role of Mike Roman on this list, punching well above his modest Twitter following of 29,610 people. Roman, a charged co-conspirator in Trump’s Georgia indictment, is claiming Fani Willis has a conflict arising from a personal relationship with one of the prosecutors she brought in for the case. He’s often thought of someone who ferried documents from fake electors around, but before that he was a kind of internal intelligence service for Trump targeting Republicans, and before that, the Kochs. Like Grenell, he has branched out to push far right policies internationally, in Canada. None of those activities, however, explain what chat rooms he was in that allowed him to help spread the Big Lie in 2020. They must exist, and yet they’re not yet visible.

Mike Roman is one of the Trump associates whose phone DOJ seized before Jack Smith was appointed. To the extent he didn’t delete them, that should disclose his networks to prosecutors.

As I noted above, increasingly, these networks have moved to platforms, especially Telegram and Signal, that are harder to investigate, particularly without advance notice. It took years (starting before January 6, with the seizure of Tarrio’s phone, which nevertheless took a full year to exploit) before the government had collected at least three sets of the Friends of Stone list.

That’s true even though some network effect — whether including anyone named here or not — likely explains a swatting campaign that has targeted:

While not all targets are seen as adversaries of Trump, or even Democrats, his top adversaries have been targeted. The swatting campaign is, at a minimum, terrorism (and could be part of a campaign to do real violence).

And there’s a non-zero chance that behind it is the same kind of non-visible infrastructure the far right has been professionalizing for a decade.

My effort to describe how Trump trained the Republican party to hate rule of law will describe the visible aspects of that effort. But behind it all, these non-visible networks form an integral part of the effort.

Update: Took out reference to Pepe.

This post is part of a Ball of Thread I’m putting together before I attempt to explain how Trump trained Republicans to hate rule of law. See this post for an explanation of my Ball of Thread.

180 replies
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      Previously posted as “Smeelbo.”

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  2. CaptainCondorcet says:

    Fantastic post as always. And timely, this shit is ramping up again. I had a really close friend fall for misinformation about the recent “tunnel under synagogue” story. This is a person who will barely read CNN as they’re apparently too conservative, but there they were repeating literally Clan with a K created narratives. Thankfully they listened to me and some fact check articles, but we figured out the exposure came from ostensibly super pro-Gaza TikTok accounts. My friend reported and moved on, but I have to wonder which of the probably 3-4 massive psyops (Russia, Iran, Israel, domestic RW) caught them in the trap. Dark times ahead for November.

    • Matt Corr says:

      Thank you. I’ve been wondering for a while how much the right wing troll industry has been stoking the Israel-Palestine issue. There are certainly valid concerns of all parties and I don’t intend a conversation regarding the larger issues, but the “pro-Hamas” left theme has felt artificially inflamed and instigated into self destructive demonstrations, intended to split the anti-authoritarian, anti-trump crowd. I’ve been hoping that someone with much deeper knowledge would call this out in hopes of quelling some of the discord.

      • CaptainCondorcet says:

        Netanyahu is Israeli Trump who is clearly leveling the place for future harmful ambitions personal and policy. I have little doubt in that. And Biden is an octogenarian who was literally alive during the Holocaust, so he was never going to come out swinging for the poor civilians.

        HOWEVER, there has been some very suspicious “don’t vote for the lesser of two evils” rhetoric coming out from some of these narratives, but a combination of fear of cancel culture and general lack of Internet savvy is keeping this from being publicized. I myself would likely lose several friends and a few family members with even just these posts

  3. Upisdown says:

    I have no doubt that the DNC server hack and release was enough on its own to turn the 2016 outcome by getting pissed off Bernie backers to stay home or vote for Stein on election day. That is how thin the margins were in key states. But there was SO MUCH more on top of that.

    I wish Mueller and Senate Intel Committee reports had more forcefully empathized the impact of Russia’s interference. Also the media should have done more.

    • An Offer You Can't Refuse says:

      More Bernie supporters voted for Hillary in 2016 than Hillary supporters voted for Obama in 2008.

      The centrist messaging of the Democratic party in 2016 was always going to lose to a populist. They failed to turn out the vote. It wasn’t Bernie Bros who cost the election, it was a refusal to acknowledge a serious need for change.

      • Rayne says:

        Links to data supporting your case, please.

        Hard to make your case when many voters were influenced by foreign operations. Ditto the Democratic Party’s campaign.

        Welcome to emptywheel.

  4. higgs boson says:

    I’m not sure it’s germane, but the meme is not actually a pepe meme. It’s “Philosoraptor”, and it’s been around for at least twelve years. Not — as far as I know — associated with the alt-right like pepe is.

    • emptywheel says:

      Thanks. It is!

      This particular person (who got a new Twitter account early in 2017) IDed as a populist gay guy. Didn’t want to focus too much on his ID, tho.

      • wa_rickf says:

        Said “populist gay guy” is absolutely a Log Cabin Republican. LCRs put money over who they are as a human being. That meme is an alt-Right meme. The mainstream LGBTQA+ community want nothing to do with LCRs, having seen them sell their souls for money.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      And that “not associated” is exactly the point. These efforts evolve to consistently mimic nonpolitical Internet content culture, first in static memes then in short videos (though that’s harder because less able to be throwaway). The better to turn away the already nearly-disenfranchised young vote which typically go to 2:1 for Democrats.

  5. soundgood2 says:

    Can someone explain to me why law enforcement would respond to a call to the home of Jack Smith or Tanya Chutkan, etc. that came from an anonymous phone? Many of the swatting targets are people with a security detail. What information could be gleaned from a burner phone call? Is there a way to disguise or hide where a cell call is coming from? What are the chances law enforcement has been able to track any or all of these calls?

    • lastoneawake says:

      Google (or DuckDuckGo) this keyword phrase:

      swatting why is it so hard to investigate

      There are several explanatory articles.

      Also, I was swatted last year. It’s very hard, and expensive: court orders to 911 calling centers, etc.

      If it was easy to solve, it wouldn’t be so popular.

    • PieIsDamnGood says:

      These are almost certainly spoofed cell phone numbers, that cease to exist after the call is made. It’s probably a similar technique that spammers use to call us, ever notice how most spam calls are from your area code?

      The swatters operate similar to other scammers, they create a false sense of urgency that demands immediate action. “I’m your boss and I need gift cards” and “I heard a woman screaming and then a gun shot from this house” are both unlikely situations but people fall for the first every day. Also important to note that “John Doe was Swatted” headlines often leave out important details. Nobody broke down Chutkan’s door with guns drawn. Cops got a (fake) call about a shooting, went to her door, asked a question, and left.

      • lastoneawake says:

        If you refuse to let the police in, or go out to meet them, you are in no danger. A swat is not a matter that requires a warrant.

        But this applies to any police matter. Never cooperate with police who come to your door without a warrant, unless to was you who called them.

        • BuffaloNick says:

          I’m not so sure about that. These calls to swat someone almost always:
          1) Come from a number matching the owner of the house or a resident
          2) These callers are almost always acting out an extremely violent situation (e.g. Someone in house has killed someone or multiple people already and are actively threatening to kill more)

          So I don’t know the law, but whatever law applies is the one where the police think there is an active murderer with potential victims in the house.

          • lastoneawake says:

            This is not to say that cops don’t abuse their privileges and break down doors, but then they have to go to court, lie about their basis for probable cause in court, and unless they kill any witnesses, deal with lawyers who cross examine.

            And cops would rather not deal with lawyers.

            • Spencer Dawkins says:

              (Sometimes media coverage IS our friend)

              It’s worth saying that aggregate police department awareness of SWAT attempts has increased every year since I started paying attention. Several years ago, SWAT was a new thing, so if someone calls 911 and says “I’M IN THE HOUSE, THERE ARE DEAD BODIES EVERYWHERE, AND SOMEONE IS KNOCKING ON THE BEDROOM DOOR NEXT TO MINE, OMG OMG OMG HELP!!!”, a reasonable response would be to believe the caller, especially if the call goes dead at that point, and send in the cavalry, guns blazing.

              Now that we can’t get out of bed without seeing reports of the latest SWAT attempt (you know, since the one the day before yesterday), and Trump has done his inadvertent best to make sure that the names of his enemies are on everyone’s lips, it’s a lot more likely that a 911 operator might tell a team that’s being dispatched, “the caller said” (describes violent scenario), “and disappeared. This could be real, but if you don’t see smoke a you’re headed in, and you don’t hear gunfire when you dismount, you might want to knock on the door first”.

        • EuroTark says:

          One of the semi-famous people I know who’s had to deal with this is the author Patrick S. Tomlinson, known as stealthygeek on the site formerly known as twitter. Here’s one of the news articles; but the gist is that despite double-digit amount of calls claiming that a murder is taking place inside the house, the police still regularly arrive with guns drawn. All the local take-away joints have standing orders to not accept orders from that address, but still try to deliver weekly.

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        (Edited to apologize to the moderators – I inadvertently used my legal name on this post, then deleted it and reposted with my preferred name. Sorry!)

        I posted elsewhere about police departments becoming more aware of SWAT as a tactic every year, but just to summarize here:

        If someone had tried to SWAT U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel for charging a $25M fine for Trump University fraud in 2016, that might have had the desired effect (especially if Trump hadn’t spent months tweeting how unfairly Curiel was treating him).

        I’d bet that the DC police don’t roll with guns blazing based on one phone call from an Internet service provider network – at least, not these days.

  6. lastoneawake says:

    Something tells me all this leads to Peter Thiel.

    Barrett Brown focused a lot of attention on his covert efforts to influence people great and small, long before Trump came along.

    And if I’m not mistaken, he was an early supporter of Trump.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Thiel’s name would be very near the top of my list also. Don’t know why people with too much money want to make life miserable for everyone else.

        • Troutwaxer says:

          It’s not just Ayn Rand. There are two kinds of Libertarians. Those who don’t realized that Ayn Rand was writing fiction, and those who don’t realize that Robert A. Heinlein was writing fiction.

        • yydennek says:

          Thiel’s upbringing- right wing religion- evangelical. Thiel backed JD Vance who converted to Catholicism in 2019.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Vance’s personal religious journey is typical of those raised poor who become richer than they hoped (and in his case, more “famous” and praised than he merits). Vance swapped out his Protestant but none too observant youth for the punitive rigor of the RCC, that haven for those seeking to expiate guilt.

            Plus he now gets to hang out with a new man-club, exclusive as Hell.

      • SmeelboBaggends says:

        I believe that a lot of wealthy people would prefer poverty to be as awful as possible in order to maximize the coercive power of money.

        If even the poor were physically secure, labor costs would be higher.

  7. giorgino says:

    Small typo on the last line of your post: “these non-visible networks for an integral part of the effort.” I assume “for” should be form.

    • Troutwaxer says:

      The post is very informative, but could use a careful reread/copyediting because it’s full of minor errors. For example, “He’s often thought of someone who ferried documents from fake elctors around” (note the misspelling of ‘electors’) or “though it’s not via what channel he knew him” which I think is meant to read, “though it’s not CLEAR via what channel he knew him.” And so on.

      • fatvegan000 says:

        It’s called A Ball of Thread.

        “So I’m going to first try to write those up fairly quickly, so they’re out there, my Ball of Thread. Some of these posts will be more observation than detailed collection of facts. Others will not show my proof to the extent I normally do. Some will update things I’ve already said. Still others would not normally merit their own post, but I want to have it out there, as part of my Ball of Thread.”

  8. TomVet 475 says:

    In the ¶ beginning “Between 2016 and 2020” about Doug Jensen, you have created a new word -radicaliation- I like better than the intended one.

    Assume it’s just a typo.

  9. yydennek says:

    Maddening and, fascinating -Mike Roman’s fund raising page at the religious-based site, Give Send Go- described as father of 8 and devout Roman Catholic.
    CNN – an entire segment on Iowa evangelical voters- no mention of GOP Catholics, not even from the head of PRRI who was quoted.
    In 2020, 63% of White Catholics who attend church regularly voted for Trump, a 3% increase from 2016.
    Six months ago, three archdioceses in Ohio promoted a Republican attempt at destruction of referendums, the only means to democracy in a gerrymandered theocratic state.
    But, I get blog and media omissions. Educated elites can’t separate the demographic segment which has people they like in it from the Church’s right wing politicking. Evangelicals, gloves off, not many of them are in the social circles of Democrats.
    Btw- how Georgetown ended up hiring the Koch network’s Ilya Shapiro and not rescinding the job offer? St. Thomas University (the school’s GOP club embroiled in a Republican scandal involving the state party chair) posted Father Dease’s explanation about the role of Catholic universities after John Paul’s public square demands.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Mike Roman is a particularly insidious operator. He is entirely behind the current “controversy” regarding Fani Willis and one of the three outside prosecutors she added to her office’s team; it seems obvious that Roman is exploiting the divorce of that prosecutor, using his “estranged wife” to access what would otherwise be sealed proceedings and then (I’m guessing) lying about them.

      But because they are sealed divorce proceedings, the rest of the world can’t see them and the press has essentially been taking Roman’s word for it that Willis is compromised. At what point do they scrutinize the source of the charges instead of passing on gossip as if it were “explosive” news?

      • yydennek says:

        If Republicans weren’t proven liars, we wouldn’t be correct in finding everything they say, suspect.

      • SteveBev says:

        Roman is no doubt a rat-fucking slime ball.

        His allegations at present are light on supporting evidence filed in a way one might imagine they ought to be.

        However, there are a couple of data points which hint that there •maybe• some issues of substance.
        1 the allegation Willis is subpoenaed as a witness in Wallace’s divorce – easy to rebut if untrue, but if true supports an allegation of an intimate relationship
        2 Willis’s public statement that she is flawed – seems to be tantamount to an admission
        3 Her defence that the allegations relate to her and him, and not involve the other appointments of special counsel- would seem to be in fact something of a distraction tactic: one of the concerns relates to his qualification for the roles he has played in the investigative and preparation stage in the prosecution, and his qualifications as compared to the other special prosecutors on the team
        4 the forced recusal of Willis ( and consequently her office) from prosecution of one of the co-defendants in the RICO because of an •actual• (not merely perceptual) conflict of interest- this doesn’t directly relate to the Wallace situation, however it does relate to the sloppy management of conflicts of interest in the same prosecution in the same period.

        See Daily Beast piece by Fleischman.

        While I by no means endorse each and every point he makes, I do think it is wrong for us to imagine that there is no there there with Roman’s claims, and that Willis has not made a rod for her own back, and a rod which can be shoved into the gears of the prosecution.

        • Just Some Guy says:

          “Willis’s public statement that she is flawed – seems to be tantamount to an admission”

          This seems quite a stretch given that she uttered it in a church.

          • SteveBev says:

            It is precisely because she chose to go to church to address the issues of the claims against her that the words she uttered in her ‘defence’ requires some parsing

            She is rinsing the allegations against her in front of a favourable audience primed by instinct and religious culture to forgive the repentant sinner.

            She didn’t say that we are all sinners who need Gods grace and guidance, but all these current accusations are entirely without foundation.

            Her framing is that I am flawed and the enemies have attacked the two black people. This is not a denial of the relationship but a tacit admission and deflection.

            I read it that she knows the affair is going to be revealed, but is getting out in front of it without directly admitting it, and then pushing a talking point which avoids the substantive implications of the alleged conflict of interest.

            • Just Some Guy says:

              Have to politely disagree. From what I’ve read of her comments, her rhetoric of being flawed was spoken of in general terms, not as anything specific to the allegations in question. So stating that they were a “tacit admission” again seems a stretch in the context: a church where, presumably, every congregant and pastor(s) would also describe themselves that way, being as it’s a description grounded in Christian theology. To me it doesn’t seem any more of an “admission” than “I am a Christian” which, again given the context, isn’t specific nor even extraordinary.

              I would also presume that a prosecutor trying to use that statement against Willis wouldn’t be very persuasive for a grand jury or jury, but I certainly could be mistaken. It would certainly be something if Mike Roman and/or his legal team tried using her comment of being flawed as an admission — I suspect that their silence (AFAIK) shows that, indeed, it was rhetorically useful for Willis.

              That said, I can’t go without noting that Willis has been prosecuting based on hip-hop lyrics which also seem to stretch credulity.

              • Rayne says:

                I’m going to caution both you and SteveBev that if you’re not familiar with Black American subculture, especially its Southern Christian elements, you may completely misread what’s going on within Willis’ appearance in a church setting.

                • Ginevra diBenci says:

                  Thank you, Rayne. I haven’t attended a Sunday service in a Southern Black church in ten years (last time I was in the South) but my experiences made me want to respond to those comments too.

                  Whether Willis is “confessing” or not, Judge McAfee has scheduled a hearing on the issues. Maybe we should all wait for that before playing judge ourselves.

                • SteveBev says:

                  Fair enough.

                  I will only say that I watched the entire video of her remarks and that her own repeated references to her flaws, and the analogies she drew upon in that context appeared to me to be a tacit admission to a relationship with Wallace.

                  I also want to make clear that I have no doubt that the relish with which she has been attacked on these issues (and eg the accusations of affairs with gangsters) are undoubtedly tainted with racism.

                  So there are undoubtedly complexities and nuances that I have no desire to trample upon. This is indeed a matter which should be approached with care.

                  I apologise to all if it appears that I have not applied appropriate care in considering the particular point and how I have chosen to express myself upon it.

                • Just Some Guy says:

                  Duly noted. The context of Willis’s comments — made specifically from a Black church, presumably from the pulpit (!) — was what I was getting at.

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                If what you mean here is that basing a prosecution partly on song lyrics seems like overreach, JSG, I agree. (It’s unclear from your wording whether it’s the lyrics themselves that you think strain credulity.)

                I have noted before that Willis’s approach on other cases has left me chilled. She seems to eat Aggressive Prosecution cereal for breakfast, which is the currently approved course for ambitious lawyers in government. As long as these jobs are elected or otherwise political, and the nation remains wrongly fixated on “runaway crime,” that won’t change.

                My problem with Willis is that in the past she built her big cases by pushing RICO hardest against mostly Black defendants (the teacher scandal, the case you reference).

                I’ve been hoping the election case would give her, us, and her community a look at what she can do with the ruling class instead. I’d hate to see Mike Roman bring that down.

                • Rayne says:

                  A grand jury felt that the acts described along with the evidence shown violated state law — not hip-hop lyrics. Sermonizing from a pulpit is not prosecution but First Amendment activity, even if hip-hop lyrics are a feature.

                  I agree that Willis’ use of Georgia’s RICO act is problematic, as problematic as Cop City construction, but there’s been little discussion about the failure to use conspiracy or other charges instead of the RICO act.

                • Just Some Guy says:

                  I meant, and want to emphasize this and be clear about it, that attempting to introduce hip-hop lyrics as evidence of criminal wrongdoing is misguided at best.

                  My comment had nothing about it qualifying anything about hip-hop or hip-hop lyrics.

              • Just Some Guy says:

                Some context for my above remark: I was not dismissive of hip-hop but rather Fani Willis’s prosecution of hip-hop artists which attempts entering lyrics as evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

  10. UKStephen says:

    In Dec 2018 there was a pro oil and gas truck convoy from Alberta (Canada’s Texas) to Ottawa. Mostly peaceful and I don’t think it resonated much in the US media (as a Canadian that’s my hunch but I can’t really confirm).

    In 2022 the freedom convoy left from Alberta protesting vaccines, closed borders and occupied Ottawa. Fox News and Tucker Carlson were all over this story and as a Canadian I felt this weirdness wondering why the US media was suddenly interested in what was going on up here.

    Anything to do with these hidden networks you speak of?

    • emptywheel says:

      I think that’s right. These networks are tremendously good at directing and commanding attention.

      Plus it was tied to the truck protests outside of DC.

      And probably the ones on the border of Ukraine. The truck protest will come back in North America, I’m pretty sure.

        • KittyRehn says:

          Not to nitpick, but IIRC the yellow vests were based more in Alberta than in Quebec. I might be wrong about that, but I do know that Tamara Lich (one of the key figures in the Convoy) got her start organizing during them.

        • Rayne says:

          Meant to respond yesterday that the gilets jaunes in France were meant to mess with Macron’s administration and generally destabilize France, which would have been of a piece with the slow destabilization of Britain with Brexit.

          France’s destabilization to prevent EU political cohesion wasn’t the only aim — the protests’ relationship to the cost of oil and gas says something about the other possible players involved.

          I’d really like to know more about the relationship between the pardon papers Trump had in his possession, Macron, and Roger Stone and if there was a link to the gilets jaunes’ protests.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            Yes! While les gilets jaunes protests would seem to postdate the possible connection between Macron and Stone suggested by EW’s Pardon Papers post, they seem to come out of the same destabilizing foreign influence operation.

            • Rayne says:

              The first protest in Quebec preceded the birth of the Mouvement des gilets jaunes by months and came not long after Macron’s election and a poll reflecting a 28% approval rating. In spite of the gap between French and Quebecois French, French language material and sites may have been the initial vector of “infection.”

              Something ugly was already brewing in Quebec given the mass murder of Muslims in early 2017 and before that the efforts in Montreal to protest against Muslims in 2015 by a hate group Pegida of EU origin. Looking back at activity 2014-2019 across Canadian white supremacist/nationalist/fascist groups, it looks like there was an effort to pull together single-issue groups into a unified fascist effort by the time the convoys first converged on Ottawa.

    • lastoneawake says:

      Speaking merely as an observant American:

      Black Lives Matter collided with the covid epidemic.

      Trump found it easier to use anti-vaxxing than addressing police murder as an issue to unite his followers.

      The 2020 convoy was just a simple-minded copycat, badly organized, and devolved to infighting when it ran out of money.

      Outsiders like Steve Bannon and FOX just used it for clicks, viewers and contributions.

      • yydennek says:

        Steve Bannon geofenced Catholic Churches for GOP messaging and, a week ago, on Sunday, Stefanik told Meet the Press that the federal government was persecuting Catholics. But, don’t review the preceding and make conclusions out loud, it doesn’t fit media’s exclusionary narrative about evangelicals.

          • yydennek says:

            Yet, there is a blackout in media and political blogs about one of the two major politically-involved sects. There’s reporting about evangelicals (and, Christian nationalists) which the public understands as protestant. The last time I read The Atlantic’s coverage of the topic (Adam Laats), there’s only one right wing sect (fyi the influencer, John Eastman, wasn’t from that sect ). And, the last time I read MSNBC’s coverage (Althea Butler), again, only one of the two sects warranted mention. If it changed after I tuned out,
            that’d be great. The seeming reluctance to report Catholic voters as Trump supporters and the Catholic Church as right wing political spender is dangerous to democracy.
            In 2012, CNN posted, “Iowa- Evangelicals, Catholics Voters may swing…” Reporting from Iowa in 2024, no mention except about evangelicals. WTH?

      • Trypeded says:

        Simple minded but not harmless. The right wing rising in Canada is not something to ignore

        (Added more letters to meet new requirement Rayne, hope ok)

        [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

    • KittyRehn says:

      I find the development of the far right in Canada incredibly interesting, as from what I understand, we went from having small, relatively isolated alt-right groups to the much larger network that allowed for the organization of the convoy, among other events. Harper was tuned into the same wave of far right nationalism that Trump capitalized on, but the political environment wasn’t quite primed for it in 2015. Worryingly, I don’t know if I could say the same for the current climate.

      I also read a neat paper last spring on the development of far right master-frames and transnational diffusion by Jens Rydgren, which was very informative.

      • yydennek says:

        In assessing the right wing shift in Canada, do not ignore the right wing politicking and political spending of the Catholic Church and its affiliated organizations e.g. the info in the article at National Catholic Reporter (6-16-2020), ‘I’m done with the Knights of Columbus,” Father Peter Daly.
        Btw- the Political Activities of the Knights of Columbus entry at Wikipedia has been sanitized.

        Between 2022 and 2023, right wing Catholic interests (including dioceses, a Leonard Leo group and, the Knights) spent about $14 mil. on just two ballot issues in Ohio and Kansas. (Ohio Capitol Bureau)
        There’s a priest from Canada who writes for Tim Busch’s right wing, National Catholic Register (not to be confused with the NCReporter) and, he also writes for a conservative Canadian paper that was founded by Conrad Black who converted to Catholicism.

        • yydennek says:

          Name of Conrad Black’s newspaper- National Post.
          Black was pardoned by Trump in 2019.
          Black wrote, “Donald Trump: A. President Like No Other”

          Correction to preceding comment- Ohio Capitol Journal not Bureau.

            • canajan-eh_I says:

              He was a citizen of the UK, haven given up his Canadian citizenship. He was convicted of various charges and jailed in the US. Pardoned after writing and publishing, in jail, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other”

  11. Error Prone says:

    The three Goldman Sachs speeches channeling $750,000 into the personal Clinton pocket, not money to the campaign, followed by a refusal to disclose transcripts, and turning Libya into a basket case while on Obama’s cabinet were real. They undermined Clinton cred more than any pizza shop. Now, Dean Phillips is making more noise over Biden’s age than anyone. And on the other side, you leave out Bannon and the Mercers. I Duck search = Mercer family Parler, and get things you might weave into networking thoughts. How they fit, good luck there, it is opaque at best. Then, Ted Cruz is waiting out this one, but remember insinuations about Ted’s dad in Mexico? Ted at that time was a competitive candidate, the Mercers backing Ted before switching after Trump gained dominance, and there may be threads about that to weave.

    • Rayne says:

      First, supply links to claims. You only have 14 comments to date under your belt so perhaps you’re not familiar with the community’s practice.

      Second, this — “They undermined Clinton cred more than any pizza shop” — is opinion. Do you have links to polling data to support this?

      Third, please spend a bit more time on composition; you’ve pulled together 140 words into a single paragraph which should be broken into smaller paragraphs because you change subjects at least three times.

  12. wetzel-rhymes-with says:

    Like many of us here, I can remember in the late nineties when political blogging was born. Everything was optimistic about the Internet. We were going to free education from bricks and mortar and radically accelerate human development.

    But it was all there in Gingrich’s GOPAC memo how the GOP would make use of the Internet. Democrats could never get all our candidates to mouth in unison “decay, failure (fail), collapse(ing), deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick, pathetic, lie, radical, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, betray, consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors, sensationalists,”compassion” is not enough.”

    I think it’s true that GOPAC training led to effective messaging for the audience, but what’s most important is not the effect for the audience but the effect for the candidates. The mechanisms of cognitive dissonance seems to predict a person will lose an important idea about themselves when they mouth language that is purely instrumental and propagandistic.

    I think the Internet and Social Media have allowed this same kind of cognitive dissonance to act on the psyches of millions of right-wing people. Facebook lets the GOP base think they are part of the operation, and now nobody knows or seems to care what the truth is. Propaganda simply devoted to undermining the idea that there is evidence is effective.

    • Rayne says:

      Could you point to the earliest political blog you’re aware of? Because the earliest political blogs I can think of and followed were triggered in no small part by the 2000 election and the response to 9/11.

      A link to a copy of Gingrich’s GOPAC memo would also help.

      • wetzel-rhymes-with says:

        Sure. Here’s the GOPAC memo:

        Yeah, it was after the 2000 election with Media Whores Online and Bartcop. Maybe TPM goes that far back. There was a site that was kind of like a forerunner of Reddit called Plastic. After 09/11, I remember there were a lot, Steve Gilliard, Billmon, Kevin Drum, Kos, Digby, Atrios. There were a lot of voices back then.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Hmmm…. Dave Winer started blogging in 1994 (and is still going). I’m not sure he qualifies as a political blogger though because he has a much wider range than that. I’d be willing to bet that he wrote the first political blog post.

        • Rayne says:

          That’s the kind of detail I’m looking for. I used to read Winer all the time pre-2000 but I can’t recall pointedly political posts, mostly technology posts.

          ADDER: The place I used to read political content on the regular in the mid to late 1990s was The Well (which is still around), which was more of a bulletin board at the time. I’m sure there were other sites like that at the time — not yet blogs but collections of commentary which included politics.

          ADDER-2: Oh shit, I forgot Misanthropic Bitch. Political as hell, but mostly about misogyny and feminism and societal norms with a rather short shelf life 1997-2001. Betting most older bloggers have forgotten this one as well because of TMB’s focus at the time.

          • WilliamOckham says:

            Now I’m starting to get a serious case of deja vu. I think you and I may have had this discussion before in Marcy’s comment section before. I’m too lazy to try to find it.

            • emptywheel says:

              IMO Winer and Micah Sifry and some others are “tech as transformation.”

              I started on DailyKos on 2002–I think he started it a while before. But IMO 2006–the Time Year of the Blogger–is the sweet spot of what I think of as political “bloggging.” Though that may also tie to the Blogger platform.

          • AlaskaReader says:

            re the growth of online networks, the ones I remember so much were those evolving from the confluence of the Stewart Brand/Whole Earth Catalog family/personalities, and the tie in to college and university professors, lecturers, staff in libraries networking up and down the West Coast. (I suppose there was something similar in the East coast?) SFGate was an early online vehicle that was maybe a precursor, the Well, certainly was and, as noted, still lives. Salon, Wired Magazine both familiarized online communities.

            I regret that I purged a list of dead links, a cemetery of dead blog links I used to maintain.
            Before that various bulletin boards didn’t leave any tracings, all those primitive computers aren’t today easlly accessible, though I still have a couple in boxes around here. Accessing the boxes of ancient floppies isn’t a likely task I’ll accomplish.

          • AlaskaReader says:

            Author/Blogger David Neiwert is an excellent source when reviewing the rise of the far right and it’s network of tentacles. I don’t remember when his blog Orcinus started but it broke ground rarely tilled.

            • Rayne says:

              Yup, nice chap, met him at a Netroots Nation event years back. I think his blog launched in 2000, swear it was a fairly early one on Blogger platform.

            • Clare Kelly says:


              He was very helpful to me when my son moved from The Bay to the PNW and became a target of the unfettered-by-LE, testosterone militia there.

              Unsurprisingly, he holds Marcy in high regard.

          • timbozone says:

            Yep, and the HBI website. All missed these days, although didn’t MB drop in here the other month or something?

        • Rayne says:

          That video is from May 2003 — after 9/11, after the start of the Iraq War. Political blogging would be a tidal wave after this point in time.

      • wa_rickf says:

        One of the earliest blogs is from circa 1994 is Capitol Hill Blue run by Doug Thompson. Still in existence today. Doug’s earliest opinion pieces were savagely anti-Clinton, only to become savagely anti-Bush/Cheney in the 2000s. Doug mellowed out somewhat during the Obama years, and he’s Team Joe today and very much anti-Republican.

        Doug is a former RNC operative/lobbyist in D.C. in the ‘80s.

        • Rayne says:

          Thanks. Specific examples are good. Links are best.

          ADDER: Wondering if Capitol Hill Blue was a blog in the 1990s but instead a website which migrated later to blog format. I didn’t visit the site back then, but references to the site are to a “political news site” (MuckRack) and the earliest archived image doesn’t actually show a blog (content published in reverse chrono order) but a fairly simple website.

  13. pluralist says:

    WRT Mike Roman “punching well above his modest Twitter following”, perhaps he was using some of the same techniques Microchip was using (e.g. AddMeFast, referenced on EW here, although I became acquainted with it through the SPLC piece on Microchip

  14. Savage Librarian says:

    On a related note, I’m looking forward to Barbara McQuade’s book, Attack from Within, which is coming out at the end of February. But, also, I think it’s important to remember that the mid 1990’s really contributed a big part to the non-visible networks of fascism. It certainly was obvious to me and other library employees, some of whom discussed concerns on listservs.

    Not only were we aware that white supremacist-christian-nationalist-militia members routinely used library computers to communicate with each other on the dark web, they also used meeting rooms for nefarious purposes. They weren’t the only ones who met for suspect purposes, though. There were rightwing Republicans who had agendas similar to Cleta Mitchell who regularly had CPAC meetings. And David Duke may have had a much bigger impact than most people admit or realize.

    So, these activities have been going on for decades. I’m just relieved that sensible people are finally addressing it and proposing solutions.

    • emptywheel says:

      I never knew that. Is that written up someplace?

      There’s so much great activism that arose out of libraries. Was it a response?

      Here in Ireland, the fascists specifically target libraries. And the cops are too forgiving of them.

      • RipNoLonger says:

        I think the use of libraries was for the public WiFi and inability to trace connections. I doubt the librarians (even Savage ones) were part of whatever movement.

        • ColdFusion says:

          Are you sure about the decade? Wifi came out in 1997, and few things had it. The earliest I could find my local libraries offering wifi was 2005. We had it in college in 2000 but most things were wired except laptops.

          • EuroTark says:

            In the mid-to-late-90s libraries tended to offer publically available internet-connected PCs, that you could conduct your business on. Much the same business-model as internet cafés. Most people would use it for passive surfing, but some would also use it to access webmail and the like. It would actually provide more privacy than a wi-fi connection.

            Security-issues were quite different then, but key-loggers weren’t exactly uncommon.

          • RipNoLonger says:

            You are right. As EuroTark said below it wasn’t the WiFi but the publicly accessible internet on the PCs in the library.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Marcy, I’m not sure I understand you. So, in response I am suggesting you read the Stormfront wiki, which also mentions Liberty Net, its bulletin board predecessor. These were sites that the fascists were addicted to.

        I don’t really feel comfortable talking about many specifics, but I can remind you that Susie Wiles was an executive in city hall during this time so you get a sense of the climate. The General Counsel then is the same man who tried to help clean up Susie’s image after the news about Trump showing her documents.

        That same guy also provided a forum for Amy Comey Barrett to be introduced to the public before anyone knew her. Don’t forget she was from Metairie, LA, as was David Duke. The National Association for the Advancement of White People (NAAWP), started there by Duke, later moved to northeast Florida.

        During that time, someone informed me that high ranking members of the local Republican party were also members of that fascist organization. And Duke’s ex married his friend Black who started Stormfront in West Palm Beach, FL.

        • Savage Librarian says:


          Shortly after I was demoted, I received an envelope in the mail at work from an anonymous sender who had recorded a TV program. It was a copy of the ABC Prime Time Live, broadcast May 14, 1997. One scene in the video took place in a library meeting room.

          That program is mentioned in a book, Undercover Reporting: The Truth About Deception (2012), by Brooke Kroeger. On p.215, in a chapter entitled “Crusaders and Zealots,” she says this:

          “Reporters spent more than a year undercover with David Duke’s National Association for the Advancement of White People for a report that, in the estimation of the Southern Poverty Law Center, helped bring about the NAAWP’s rupture and ultimate demise. The broadcast documented the relationship between members of the Ku Klux Klan and members of the NAAWP and also exposed the NAAWP’s companion militia, which, the report said, was poised to wage race war with illegally purchased weapons to advance its white supremacist cause.”

    • Tech Support says:

      The “online” presence of white supremacists certainly goes back farther than that. The pre-Internet Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) of the 1980s were an early haven for people of all stripes who were socially or ideologically isolated.

      It’s funny because in many ways, the proliferation of Discord servers and Telegram channels is incredibly reminiscent to me of that period. I might be over-extrapolating but I think you can draw a through-line from BBSes, through early social-Internet technologies like listservs, Usenet newsgroups & IRC channels, to subreddits and sites like 4chan, and now as well to Discord/Telegram.

      In that sense, I think the library phenomenon you describe reflects that period of time when public awareness of this technology outpaced access. The people who were using libraries to get more closely connected to these fascist networks were not forming new communities from whole cloth, but were trying to follow in the footsteps of much nerdier forebearers who were already doing this in one fashion or another for a decade.

    • timbozone says:

      Didn’t SPLC track hate websites and related organizations in 1990s? Or was that started in the early to mid 2000s? In any case, I do not know if their archives for this stuff is still available…

      It’s good to see they’re still tracking this stuff…

  15. CPtight617 says:

    Why has Mike Flynn, former director of DIA, not been looked at more closely for his role in Trump 2016 (and beyond) influence campaigns? Obama singled only Flynn out when advising Trump during the transition on who NOT to hire. Even after Flynn was charged and pleaded guilty for the Kislyak lies to the FBI, Flynn ran around the country talking about building an army of “digital soldiers.” In 2021, he had a Florida LLC called Digital Soldiers Media that listed him, his brother Joseph, and his Pizzagate-loving son, Michael Jr. as principals.

    From a Dec. 2018 WaPo story below on his devolution, here he is quoted talking about this very thing:

    Then, after the 2016 election, Flynn insisted that social media were the key to building a pro-Trump, conservative “army of digital soldiers . . . irregular warfare at its finest.”

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think anyone is ignoring him. I don’t even rule out Jack Smith prepping a Sidney Powell “node” of prosecutions. Note I included Raiklin in the post above.

  16. yydennek says:

    New Republic reported about the visible network in its article, “Illiberal Upstarts.”
    The section about Nate Hochman – worth a read. Those unfamiliar with Hochman, 3-24-2023, The Bullwark, “DeSantis Finds His Voice: A NatCon culture warrior who praised a prominent White nationalist and, 7-26-2023, New York Magazine, “DeSantis Nazi outreach is a strategy, not an accident.” Nick Fuentes and DeSantis share a religious sect.
    Rising from no political office, living in California, GOP JD Vance claimed residency in the state where he grew up, converted to Catholicism (2019, timing that coincided with political ambitions.) David Kertzer’s recent book about Popes and Mussolini and Hitler rewrites the 60-year old PR narrative. The book is based on recently released info., from the Vatican archives.

  17. bgThenNow says:

    “. . .the trolls in the Madman Twitter DM list were pushing memes to push a narrative, one picked up from Trump, that Hillary Clinton was unwell and might not make the election — a narrative about a Democrat replicated, with far greater success, in this election.”

    This really jumped out at me. I have too many friends who read The Intercept and Matt T (sources I am aware they read for sure) who rail on about Biden’s mental and physical health.

    I have my issues with Biden, but people need to get real. This is important, thanks for unwinding or winding the ball.

  18. Peterr says:

    A week ago, MO Secretary of State (and candidate for Governor) Jay Ashcroft was swatted. In their article about it, the Missouri Independent used the first half of the piece talking about the details of the incident, then put it in broader context:

    Ashcroft is a candidate for governor in the Republican primary. He recently said he would consider ways to block President Joe Biden from the Missouri presidential ballot if the courts allow Colorado and Maine to exclude former President Donald Trump based on violations of the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause.

    Swatting calls that target prominent public figures have made news repeatedly in recent weeks. On Sunday, police responded to the home of U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is presiding over Donald Trump’s election interference case, over a false report of a shooting at a home owned by Chutkan.

    U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s home in Naples, Florida, was swatted Dec. 27, and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was swatted on Christmas morning.

    Businessman George Soros was swatted New Year’s weekend.

    Kind of reminds me of the late 60s/early 70s, when phoning in fake bomb threats were all the rage. There were enough actual bombings to make the police take the calls seriously, but they caused a lot of chaos. I can remember at least three at my middle school that caused us to evacuate to the far end of the school property while bombsniffing dogs went through every room in the school.

    • P J Evans says:

      My HS got a called-in bomb threat in 1965-66. We had to stand in the parking lot for about half an hour or so, before they decided it wasn’t real. (Fire drills and duck-and-cover drills were familiar to us, so it was just another Thing.)

      • John Paul Jones says:

        Our high school had the same thing happen: couple of hours in the parking lot, couple of missed classes. This was 1967. We all assumed it was so the cops could go through lockers looking for dope.

        • P J Evans says:

          Dope hadn’t gotten to us yet. Didn’t start showing up until after they introduced anti-drug classes – after my time. We weren’t even into alcohol, as far as anyone can remember.

    • BobBobCon says:

      The big difference with swatting is that it (potentially) puts a squad of guys in tactical gear with hair triggers pointing guns through your windows, whereas fake bomb threats were far less dangerous.

      It’s a really scary development that needs police forces to rethink their maximalist tendencies.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Swatting tends to get people killed. The homeowner hasn’t asked for and isn’t expecting a squad of armed police to show up in the middle of the night, with weapons drawn, adrenaline pumped, and hair triggers and tempers. Police are expecting to confront a bad guy or two, committing a violent crime inside someone’s home. De-escalating doesn’t much enter into it.

  19. coalesced says:

    If one were to attempt to create a network map of connections involved, I would highly recommend starting with @capitolhunters Big Jan 6th timeline. In particular the VIP/Associations/ and Details 1979-2019 Tabs. I will attempt to provide a direct link to the google spreadsheet but if I screw it up, it can also be found on twitter/X @capitolhunters.

    https :// docs. google.c om/spreadsheets/d/1R5eWiVJtVubbA122gu4XGshGmPlrTmRiiKbmoytBofs/edit?usp=sharing

    [Moderator’s note: Google Docs links are generally not allowed here because they can be used to share malware and are blind (not clear what’s behind the link). The link above has been “broken” with blank spaces; readers should use it at their own risk. In the alternate, readers can visit @CapitolHunter’s mirrored X site at then use the “Jan6Analysis” link in the profile at left. /~Rayne]

  20. David F. Snyder says:

    And there’s a non-zero chance that behind it is the same kind of non-visible infrastructure the far right has been professionalizing for a decade.

    Non-zero chance? I take it as a certainty. This is the country club WASP, white collar criminal, smoke filled room club we’re talking about.

  21. wa_rickf says:

    A recording of self-proclaimed ‘dirty trickster’ Roger Stone advocating to NYC cop Sal Greco, moonlighting as Stone’s bodyguard, a murder plot of Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) weeks before the 2020 election, both nemesis of Stone, was reported by ABC legal expert and owner of Dan Abrams Media last week. Stone was also recorded by a Danish film crew in a parking garage on J5 as stating: “—-k the voting, let’s get right to the violence.”

    Of course, Stone immediately claimed the recording as A.I. generated of the Nader/Salwell plot.

    Stone is very much tied to the Trump network of disinformation and fascism.

  22. Molly Pitcher says:

    Completely off topic, but very worrisome:

    “Iran announces strikes in northern Iraq and Syria as Middle East tensions escalate
    World Jan 15, 2024 6:45 PM EST
    IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — Iran announced late Monday that it had launched strikes against a “spy headquarters and the gathering of anti-Iranian terrorist groups” shortly after missiles hit an upscale area near the U.S. consulate in Irbil, the seat of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

    The security council of the Kurdish regional government said in a statement that four civilians were killed and six injured in the strikes.”

  23. bgthenNow says:

    Pre-internet (late 80s-early to mid 90s) was also a time when short-wave radio was one of the main ways people communicated across distances. I knew people who were capturing data from short wave radio and also used early computer language like ASCII, I think that’s what it was called. I would not be the least surprised if the users of short wave radio were largely conservative, but I have nothing to back that up. Certainly it was being used by more revolutionary types in Central America. This followed news clippings as a methodology of collecting data that was stored on floppy discs and capable of being sent by fax, I think.

      • bgThenNow says:

        Thanks. Code, I guess is a better way to describe it, but it was a way of communicating electronically.

        • Baltimark says:

          I’m not a radio guy, though I’m certainly familiar with the past and ongoing existence of numbers stations. But it seems wildly odd and inefficient to have used ASCII (a fixed mapping of integers to individual letter and number forms (Latin and Arabic respectively, i.e. what we use in common communication) to ostensibly shroud communications. From the late 70s onward, (at least) hundreds of thousands of kids taking coding classes in high school and perhaps junior high were exposed to ASCII. And it’s a fixed mapping.

          No biggie in the scheme of things here — just that the notion of using a fixed, very broadly known substitution scheme where a number represents just a single letter or other glyph seems more like a “5th graders saw something in BYTE magazine and now they’re playing Spy vs Spy on walkie-talkies for five minutes” than proto-analog (in the airwaves sense) 8chan. Then again, considering much Jan6 opsec, maybe that extreme dilettantism rings true.

    • Tech Support says:

      This ties into my comment above about BBSes. There was an overlap of early BBS people and HAM radio enthusiasts.

      I believe that the technology you’re alluding to was packet radio. A quick historical primer (technical, not sociological) can be found here:

      I don’t know that we can say that shortwave radio people were predominantly conservative, there certainly was some overlap in the venn diagram between HAM radio enthusiasts in the 80s and Survivalists, who were very much a conservative reactionary movement.

      • Matt___B says:

        Boy can I ever back you up on this item. I have a friend who is a ham radio enthusiast who has occasionally joined his local ham radio buddies on camping trips on a local mountaintop and for some reason my friend invited me (no interest in ham radio whatsoever), because we are both astronomy enthusiasts who own telescopes, so he thought he could get a little ham radio time in and a little astronomy time in as well.

        So I went…but would never go back again. One ham radio guy in particular brought his gun with him, was visibly drunk, and whenever a small crowd was nearby, he would rope them in by casually waving his gun in the air, lock eyes with one person and say “I’m an American redneck. What are you??” Needless to say I got the hell away from that guy and avoided him the rest of the entire evening. His other buddies were more well-behaved (and less drunk) but I do know at least one of them is a Trumper nowadays and my friend, though a Democrat, has strangely hopped on the RFK Jr. bandwagon.

        Mind you, this didn’t take place in the deep South, but in the local mountains of southern California. All that to say yes, ham radio folks by and large are libertarians, Trumpers, gun-lovers and conspiracy theorists. Not all of them, but many…

    • Harry Eagar says:

      Somewhere, I have a global DXing list of clandestine SW sources from around 1970. There were hundreds, maybe thousands. I forget how I came by it.

      I’d have guessed that many, if not most were leftist. Their locations clustered in areas where people’s liberation movements were active.

      Alternatively, maybe most of them were CIA.

  24. harpie says:

    Jane Mayer, today on Xitter:
    Jan 16, 2024 · 1:04 PM UTC

    Good for @NYTimes for exposing the billionaire shark behind the fishing case that will kill environmental laws [LINK]

    Links to:
    A Potentially Huge Supreme Court Case Has a Hidden Conservative Backer The case, to be argued by lawyers linked to the petrochemicals billionaire Charles Koch, could sharply curtail the government’s regulatory authority. [link below] Hiroko Tabuchi Jan. 16, 2024, 5:01 a.m. ET

    […] The lawyers who represent the New Jersey-based fishermen, are working pro bono and belong to a public-interest law firm, Cause of Action, that discloses no donors and reports having no employees. However, court records show that the lawyers work for Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by Mr. Koch, the chairman of Koch Industries and a champion of anti-regulatory causes. […]

    Here’s the NYT article on the Internet Archive:

    • harpie says:

      If that link doesn’t work, try this:

      Here’s the link to Cause of Action website:

      From the About page:

      MISSION – To enhance individual and economic liberty, we work to limit the power of the administrative state to make decisions that are contrary to freedom and prosperity by advocating for a transparent and accountable government free from waste, fraud, abuse, and cronyism. […]

      What We Do:

      Cause of Action Institute uses investigative, legal and communications tools to educate the public on how government transparency and accountability protect economic opportunity for American taxpayers.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Jane Mayer really does class up the Times, doesn’t she? Thanks for framing this in exactly the right way to snag me, harpie!

        Spent an hour this morning trying to make sense of what seems like their new format, and gave up. Mayer reminds us of what NYT does best, which is investigative reporting.

        • earthworm says:

          Isnt Jane Mayer a staff writer for the New Yorker, here praising the New York Times for its coverage? or am i totally confused?

          • CPtight617 says:

            Yes, Jane Mayer is longtime investigative reporter for The New Yorker. Wrote a very important book about the monstrous Koch family called Dark Money.

    • harpie says:

      No more going wobbly in climate fight, Trump supporters vow For all his bombast, the former president’s agencies hesitated to rewrite federal climate reports or install loyalists atop key science agencies. Some of his allies expect that to change. Scott Waldman 01/16/2024 05:00 AM EST

      […] Meanwhile, many of his former staffers are building out a comprehensive plan to decimate both climate policy and regulations on fossil fuels. And Trump allies expect that the former president would fill his next administration with officials who are even more hostile to efforts to address global warming. […]

      “We are writing a battle plan, and we are marshaling our forces,” Paul Dans, director of Project 2025 at the Heritage Foundation, told E&E News for a story last year. “Never before has the whole conservative movement banded together to systematically prepare to take power Day 1 and deconstruct the administrative state.”

      • harpie says:

        One person that was in place and working on this during TRUMP’s presidency was Jeffery Bossert CLARK, as Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division from 2018 to 2021 at DOJ.

        Michael Joseph Stern:

        […] Until he launched a direct assault on American democracy, Clark’s résumé looked much like that of countless conservative lawyers. He clerked for Judge Danny Boggs, a hard-right Ronald Reagan nominee, and worked at the big law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Naturally, he joined the Federalist Society, frequently participating in the organization’s events and serving as chair of its environmental law and property rights practice group for seven years. Clark also taught at George Mason University School of Law (now Antonin Scalia Law School), a hub of conservative-libertarian legal studies lavishly funded by the Koch brothers. When he entered Trump’s Justice Department in 2018, he served as assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division; in that position, he sought to weaken federal environmental protections, freeing polluters to disregard long-standing regulations.[…] Clark’s new employer, the [New Civil Liberties Alliance] NCLA, was founded in 2017 by Philip Hamburger, a legal scholar who believes that much of the administrative state—the hundreds of agencies that enforce federal regulations—is unlawful. It is largely funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation and routinely sues the government. […]

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        On that last point, incoming Republican administrations have certainly prepared to “take power” on the first day of their administration. Dick Cheney made a point of it, which he illustrated by acting on his belief that personnel is policy.

        But, no, they have not made it their first priority to destroy (“deconstruct”) the govt’s ability to act through authority delegated to a host of executive branch agencies – after, that is, seeking retribution to assuage the fears of a pathological chief executive.

    • harpie says:

      Elie Mystal is live tweeting this SCOTUS argument today:
      Jan 17, 2024 · 3:08 PM UTC

      Here we go: Loper Bright. Gorsuch and Thomas try to kill Chevron deference now. [THREAD] […]

      [Roman Martinez is arguing for plaintiffs]

      Martinez refers to “Justice Gorsuch’s mother’s EPA”

      So, for the record, it’s the conservatives, not me, bringing up the fact that Gorsuch’s FAMILY LEGACY is to try to destroy this decision and the government’s regulatory powers. […]

      Gorsuch: “If there’s ambiguity, then the agency ALWAYS WINS, at least that’s what I understand Chevron to be.” –That’s Gorsuch taking his first shot at Chevron […]

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        harpie, thank you for all this. While we focus on trials, the earth is burning. I particularly needed that reminder of Jeffrey BOSSERT (he hates it when you leave this out) Clark’s priorities before he got famous.

        I’m sure the Bosserts would prefer he leave them out of all this.

  25. Ginevra diBenci says:


    Weaving threads into the ball here…or maybe just unraveling a tangled mess. Roger Stone was filmed blowing up at Trump in late January 2021 for not pardoning him, presumably for his actions connected to J6 and Propping The Steal of the 2020 election. In August 2022, the FBI found previously withheld presidential records at Mar-a-Lago, including some referencing a Stone pardon (his previous crimes and conviction had been discharged via commutation by Trump). These papers included/were attached to some related to Macron.

    EW’s post about the occult (hidden) fascist network references international efforts directed at Macron. Is Stone the link? A link? A thread?

    • harpie says:

      Marcy, a couple days ago:

      But the reason — one reason — why I find the way the way pardons have gotten floated repeatedly in this claim of absolute immunity is that, along with hundreds of documents, including nuclear secrets, found at Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, DOJ found documentation about clemency granted by Donald Trump, probably including that of: [list …]

      Oh, and also, some kind of clemency document — one that has some tie to Emmanuel Macron and therefore possibly a pardon beyond the one we know about — for Roger Stone, the guy who was convicted after refusing to disclose the substance of conversations he had with Donald Trump about advance knowledge of the Russian hack-and-leak. The same guy who, in 2020, was allegedly plotting assassinations with his former NYPD buddy Sal Greco.

      • harpie says:

        Reiterating part of what is in my comment that’s in the pokey:

        [Marcy:] Oh, and also, some kind of clemency document — one that has some tie to Emmanuel Macron and therefore possibly a pardon beyond the one we know about — for Roger Stone, the guy who was convicted after refusing to disclose the substance of conversations he had with Donald Trump about advance knowledge of the Russian hack-and-leak. The same guy who, in 2020, was allegedly plotting assassinations with his former NYPD buddy Sal Greco.

        RE: that last bit:
        NEW: Capitol Police Investigating Roger Stone Remarks About Assassinating Members of Congress [in July 2020, I think – – Swalwell and Nadler]
        Diana Falzone Jan 16th, 2024, 9:01 am

        • harpie says:

          Now the timing is that the conversation took place a “few months” after Nadler announced the Judiciary Committee would be investigating why Stone’s sentence was commuted by Trump, which was in July 2020….so September/October 2020.

          • Ginevra diBenci says:

            TY harpie! I’m sure EW’s recent posts had the Macron/Stone documents in my mind; I’ve been trying to keep up to date.

            Your note on the Nadler timing is new–have to think about that. Makes perfect sense and adds to the ugly Stone picture.

            I still want to know how he’s connected to Macron!

            • yydennek says:

              the education minister he chose is under fire- typical- her kids (husband’s a Pharma exec.) go to a private, prestigious Catholic school -echoes New Hampshire appointee for public schools who homeschooled his umpteen kids.
              The French ed minister allegedly lied about the reason for the private school choice, again, predictable, thinly veiled, anti-union.

              Policy know-nothings who get their jobs through political donations e.g. Betsy DeVos.

            • yydennek says:

              Trump’s unpaid advisor, Guido Lombardi (also his Trump Tower neighbor) launched one of the two Latinos for Trump groups (one was attached to the Trump campaign and the other, “grassroots” ).
              (Wikipedia). Enrique Tarrio said he was a member of the grassroots one. Interviews with Lombardi indicate that he saw himself as Trump’s unofficial outreach to European leaders. The politician that Lombardi was photographed with was LePen.

              • Ginevra diBenci says:

                Guido Lombardi launched *Latinos* for Trump? Sure, the root word might connect Latino back to Italy a few thousand years ago, but Lombardi’s an Italian name, not Latino or hispanic. And Guido is very Italian. This would be like me starting West Virginians for Ramaswamy–I never was one and never lived there, but I did spend two years across the border in Ohio.

                I wonder if Lombardi is/was friends with Felix Sater? That Tower just teems with dirty tricksters.

                • yydennek says:

                  Guido’s a piece of work- Financial Review described him as the “unofficial representative of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League.” Kettle meet pot.

    • vigetnovus says:

      Crazy idea….but could an executive clemency grant be classified? We’ve often mused about “secret pardons” before, but if the mere divulgence of the crime committed relates to classified information, I could see that as a “justification”. Reason I think this could be true is that it was seized in relation to the MaL warrant, and was disclosed. If it weren’t relevant to the investigation, I doubt it would have been disclosed.

  26. Vinniegambone says:

    Surely SWATing is a crime,but is it a state or federal crime ? Given the information about these disinformation networks, I would not be surprised to learn SWATing is encouraged if not straight out aided by Stone like wannabes disseminating addresses for these people to go ahead and call in violent emergencies, and that we now have serial SWATERS.

    Would also not be surprised MGT was informed in advance she was anout to be SWATTED.

    Burner phones do make their way into prisons. The Imprisoned have a lot time on their hands. Couldn’t they put geo fences around prisons?

    This problem is going to get worse. These cowards think of themselves as modern day jerky boys. We need new and better laws controlling burner phones.
    Just like you can’t drive a car wo a tag, no one should be able to own or sell a burner phone. Frikn cowards. And once they get away with making a swat call, it is very likely they will do it again.

    • EuroTark says:

      Swatting is more or less a denial-of-service attack, which by it’s very nature is hard to safeguard against. It’s basically users availing themselves to the features of the system, usually for the purpose of blocking legitimate users access. In the case of swatting though, it’s more to take advantage of the feature of systemic violence in American policing. The reason it’s so hard to safeguard against is that legitimate and abusive users look the same on a per-request basis, and you have to look at outside factors to decide which reaction to take.

  27. harpie says:

    The other day people were talking about Stefanik’s district in comments, for example:

    Here’s a well reported article about the district of “North country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik”:

    Far-right extremism is thriving in rural areas. Here’s what it looks like in Upstate NY
    Zach Hirsch (Freelance Reporter) & Emily Russell (Adirondack Reporter) Jan 15, 2024

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