• Hating the January 6 “Sedition Hunters”

    January 23, 2022 // 15 Comments »

    I hate these people. I hate them for who they are and for what they are doing and most of all I hate them for the larger thing they are a part of.

    The people I hate call themselves sedition hunters. They give themselves war names glorified by a liberal press, names like Deep State Dogs and Capitol Terrorists Exposers. What these people do, as a sort of Orwellian hobby, is identify people who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot. They spend their days slithering around the Internet looking for evidence that can put a name to a press photo and then turn what they find over to the FBI in hopes the Feds will play Sturmtruppen to their Gestapo and kick some doors down. They turn neighbors in to law enforcement as a hobby.

    One specific goal they have is to find higher quality images of a suspect that the FBI or their more tech-savvy fellow fascists can run against facial recognition tools. They spend hours on PimEyes, a facial recognition website, copying and pasting photos from CNN freeze frames and Facebook profiles. And unlike the FBI, whose use of facial recognition is at least nominally controlled by law, these amateurs are free to use and misuse the tech on behalf of the FBI without legal or moral fetter.

    Here’s how one hagiographic journalist described the sedition hunters: “There are archivists with the encyclopedic knowledge of the timeline, locations and key players. There are hashtaggers who generate catchy, memorable nicknames [example: NaziGrayHat, AuntRageFace, MAGAGuy] to help the community track the actions of suspects still at large. There are the computer whizzes who create slick websites that let you explore evidence in a user-friendly format. There are the diplomats who serve as liaisons between break off groups in the larger sedition hunters network.”

    One of those slick websites, January 6 Evidence, offers a minute-by-minute timeline linking photos and videos, overlaid with a geolocator map for suspects. You can filter for AntiAbortionTrumpers and CapitolFireExtinguishers, or chose to target only Proud Boys or Oath Keepers. The Persons of Interest page displays almost 1,800 faces, photos we assume were taken from the press coverage but who knows, of those ID’ed and those pending ID, updated with links for people busted by the Feds. One of the page developers, K2theSky, runs a companion Twitter account all about tracking down the January 6 participants that plays out like a serial killer’s bulletin board. You can almost hear her greasy sounds of self-pleasure in the background as a crusader tags another victim. It goes well beyond the “revenge of the nerds” meme the MSM employs to humanize these people.

    The web site is an extraordinary obsession. While you were walking the dog, or volunteering at the food bank, these people did all this work on their own, for free. It takes a lot of hate to inspire thousands of painstaking, detail-oriented hours of free work over a period of months. Imagine that much hate channeled by a charismatic leader. It would be a triumph of will.

     

    Putting the events of January 6 in perspective is important to understanding my hate for these people. January 6 just was not anything significant, despite all the heat and noise. The most perfect way to know that is to look at the convictions resulting out of all this Scooby “sleuthing” and FBI work. To date 702 people have been arrested. Of the completed cases, the majority have been plead guilty to things like trespassing, unlawful entry, and picketing in a Federal building, the kind of things which follow a rowdy Ohio State-Michigan game. There have been no convictions for treason, sedition, incitement or insurrection (though Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder, has been charged with conspiracy related to sedition.) Things are so far from reality that one rioter just skipped prison time because the judge noted she came to the Capitol in a tutu and not tactical gear.

    The Capitol riots were goonish, embarrassing, but in the end about as historically meaningful as a floor brawl in the Taiwanese legislature. For it to be a coup, insurrection, etc., it would have needed a path toward accomplishing a change of government. There never was any. Joe Biden was always going to be president just like the election said should happen. All the mob accomplished was a meaningless few hours’ delay in a largely ceremonial christening by the House. Trump’s actions vacillated between bizarre and shameful, but hardly Weimar material. As the fat kid in Jojo Rabbit said, “Not a good time for Nazis.”

    We must also dismiss the notion that the sedition hunters are some sort of modern day crime fighting superheroes. They are politically motivated vigilantes. They don’t hunt pedophiles or murders, they hunt Trump supporters over misdemeanor trespassing cases. Their actions are not aimed at justice but rather toward contributing to a propaganda meme that says what happened on January 6 was the most significant events of their meaningless lives. They do not want to solve crimes; they want to ruin the lives of people pictured by the media.

    In the aftermath of the Rittenhouse trial it has become common to rhetorically ask “What would have happened if Kyle Rittenhouse was black?” So let us try the same here. Imagine a group of online sleuths dedicating themselves to identifying the young black men who busted windows and burned stores during BLM riots. Imagine people devoting their lives to creating online resources with real-life consequences for Americans not charged with any crime, feeding everything from rumors to facial recognition results to law enforcement so they could kick down some uptown door and drag a 24-year-old black kid to jail.

    I hate the sedition hunters because they do not realize they are pawns in a larger game. Democrats and mainstream media are trying to sell the events of January 6 to frightened Americans as a new 9/11. This is in service to two goals: electing a Democrat in 2024, and using the tools of law enforcement against Republican supporters. You, too, should hate that.

     

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    Dachau Does Not Believe in Tears

    September 3, 2019 // 20 Comments »


     

    Right now someone in the media is finding another excuse to proclaim Trump is Hitler, America is Germany 1933, and something about concentration camps on the southern border. So I went to Dachau, just outside of Munich, to see a real concentration camp.

    You deal with the irony first. The people who in too loud voices mill around the station entrance asking “Is this the train to Dachau?” then the conductor’s announcement calling out the name as the next stop as if it was just another. The mediocre station has a McDonald’s. The bus stop sign for the shuttle you need to take has “Concentration Camp” written in English. Everyone around you is on vacation, dressed for it and chattering like it. You arrive at a visitor’s center, and there’s a rush for the toilets and the snack bar. Which way to the camp, Dad? Can we see the crematorium? Can we?
     
    A hundred steps outside the snack bar the world changes. The road turns gray even though the light playing through the poplars is from a postcard. They’ve changed the entrance location from a few years ago, and now you enter through the former SS barracks and come to the gate; it really says Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Will Set You Free) on the iron bars and you walk through just like they did. The gate only swings one way; you will leave, today, but it wasn’t originally designed that way and you can tell. There may be a hundred people with you but it is finally silent as you enter Dachau.

    It is too small. You see the administrative buildings to the right, the reconstructed prisoner barracks to the left, the assembly ground in front of you. You see the fences and walls on all four sides, walkable in a few minutes at an easy pace on a gorgeous day. It is too small to have held all those people, too small for all that happened, too small to be the symbol of Nazi power it was then. You expect something more substantial, with the distant site lines obscured, like at Disneyworld, where tricks of the eye make it seem more grand.

    It is too familiar. It takes just a few moments to get your bearings. You’ve seen photos before, and there are many posted, populating the place with buildings and people once here and forever gone. It is unlike say an art museum on the scale of the Met or the Uffizi where hours of circling corridors later you have no idea where you’ve been. You know Dachau.

    The museum unfolds in the order new prisoners were processed in. The early days of National Socialism are explained where the prisoners were first assigned numbers, the seizure of power by Hitler is documented in the room where people were stripped and deloused (subtlety is missing when the unit of measurement is Nazism) and you exit onto the campgrounds awkwardly after reading about their liberation by the 45th Infantry Division.

    You think, after all that reading and those museum exhibits (and it is a thorough education, much more than an Instagram collection of artifacts, and oh look, a real prisoner’s uniform, honey!) you understand something. But not yet. You have really just arrived and in front of you is Dachau itself, the ground, the air — the same ground they saw and air they breathed — and you have a choice. Many visitors turn back toward the snack bar, falsely satiated after an hour thinking they saw Dachau and anxiously trying to remember if the shuttle bus runs back to the station on the hour or the half-hour.

    But if you wait for them to leave, now you can see Dachau.
     
    Most of the place is empty, acres of crushed stone with flat markers showing where the now-missing barracks where. The trees lining the central road bisecting the camp are old. They were here when Dachau was working. You can match up an individual tree from a 1942 photo with the one in front of you and touch it. The sun is warm this day, a beautiful late summer afternoon with those wonderful tickles of early fall around it. A day to be alive grandpa would have called it. There must have been days just like this in 1942 here. Were there afternoon moments when for the length of time one could close one’s eyes the prisoners left the camp?

    There is some minor archaeological excavation work going on. The archaeologist stands over a hole about three feet deep and explains he is looking for evidence of the original fence line, the border of the camp before it was expanded in 1937. He found some wooden post fragments and some barbed wire. So the bottom of that hole is 1937 I ask? Yes, he says, the dirt and stones piled here haven’t seen sunlight since then. I ask if I can take one of the stones with me as a keepsake, and he explains that is not allowed, even as he looks away just long enough. Doing the right thing is hard enough elsewhere, never mind in Dachau.

    A sign simply states the area in front of you is where the barracks used for medical experiments on live humans stood. Another denotes the punishment barracks, where the SS found darker ways for those already living inside a camp designed only to punish. You see where the bodies were stacked like cordwood but you know wood is strong and straight and the images you are recreating show corpses floppy and tangled in their piles quite unlike cordwood. Now you are seeing Dachau, here in the deeper waters.
     
    Dachau does not believe in your tears. This is not a sentimental place. It is not clean. A universe of victims died here but this is not a place that acknowledges victimhood, or raises awareness, or gives voice, or traffics in the shallowness of hashtags. Dachau is here to declare what happened and to charge you with doing something with that information on the scale and with the accuracy Dachau requires.

    See, by coming here, it is now handed to you, that obligation. Hitler and his Dachau did not emerge from an election which frowned on a favored candidate. Following WWI Germany was purposefully humiliated and saddled with war reparations which were unpayable. An economic crisis unrolled. Inflation drove the nation to starvation. With no history of democracy, Germany was willed into a republic as unprepared as two virgins in an arranged marriage. Across the border the new Soviet Union and at home a powerful domestic Communist party threatened. Hungry people weren’t tricked into a strongman because of Facebook or some Electoral College fluke, they demanded one.

    Within three months of taking office Hitler gave himself the right to amend the Constitution, ended representative government, created special political courts, made criticism of the government a capital crime, and established Dachau. Two months after that Jews were fired from government positions, political parties and unions prohibited, opponents murdered, and books burned on government orders. There was no slippery slope, it was not incremental. It was inevitable.
     
    So there is obviously more to this story than a travelogue about an interesting day trip out to Dachau by train from nearby Munich. To say Trump is Hitler, America is Germany in 1933, or a grimy detention facility is a concentration camp means you have never been to Dachau.

    The presentation at Dachau is very un-2019, where everyone vies for adopted victimhood and chosen trauma. Dachau is cold, because only its facts matter. Tweets childishly mocking political opponents and regulations preventing a small number of self-declared trans people from joining the Army have nothing to do with Dachau. To stretch 2019 border facilities or exaggerate the historical impact of a march in Charlottesville is to turn Dachau relative, the dial jiggered to magnify some other event. It makes people numb, it dumbs down discussion, it is cheap, inaccurate, and exploitative. It demands mighty outrage from a partial set of facts. Both butterflies and elephants have legs, but no one should claim a butterfly is an elephant.

    Propagandists have always used ignorance to manipulate. Yet while CNN works to convince viewers silver mylar blankets instead of comfy quilts for migrants means there are concentration camps in America, Dachau reminds physicians here dissected human beings alive as part of medical experiments. Just as is taught in beginning writing courses, truth comes from showing not just telling. For those who think there is little significant difference between Germany 1933 and America today, there is Dachau to visit.
      

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Trump

    How Did Donald Trump Win?

    November 9, 2016 // 22 Comments »

    unemployment

    It’s not about left and right anymore, not about Black and White. It is all about up and down. And it elected Donald Trump via a bumpy road. The next candidate to really figure it out will sweep into power.


    And what it is is stated succiently by former McCain campaign chief strategist Steve Schmidt: jobs, specifically the loss of jobs to technology and globalization, and the changes to our society that that is causing.

    The defining issue of our times, says Schmidt, is the displacement of workers, particularly those who traditionally held working class roles. America is watching a leveling down unprecedented in its history, a form of societal and economic devolution.

    “I think that’s going to be the new fault line in American politics,” Schmidt said. “And the voters, the Bernie Sanders voter and the Trump voter — like fish netting, the fish can swing through the netting from left to right very, very easily.”

    Schmidt focuses on Silicon Valley. “Let’s look at the Silicon Valley wing of the Democratic party and be clear about the partisan nature of all of these companies. We have these arguments about minimum wage — $12, $15. We’re 18 months away in this country from a robot in the window at the McDonald’s handing you your cheeseburger.”

    “The number one job for not-college educated men in America is driving something somewhere. So when we talk about an era now of driverless trucks, driverless cars, where do those jobs go? Where’s that displacement?” Schmidt continued.

    In essence, the growing irrelevance of American workers.

    What started with the globalization of the 1980s, the literal export of jobs to places abroad chasing cheaper labor, is transitioning into its next phase, the “export” of jobs into the hands of automation. Traditional employment once considered secure (albeit low paying) that cannot be physically exported because it needs to happen at a specific geographic location, such as with service tasks, is doomed as sure as those jobs that used to be done by steelworkers in Ohio but now are performed in Shenyang.

    Of course someone reading this will be mumbling something about to hell with those workers, let them get an education, retrain, whatever Darwinian crossed with dystopian curse they can conjure. The problem is long after you take away the jobs the people are still going to be there.

    And while no one in Washington really cares about what happens to those workers per se, as long as they can vote they will matter to politicians.

    It takes a special kind of demagogue, one with even more cynicism than usual, to fully exploit those workers’ literal fears for their lives, but s/he will emerge. Think of Trump as version 1.0, a kind of beta test. Trump likely never knew what he had within grasp, and spoke to this displaced group largely cluelessly and without the sophistication of a proper strategy.

    But the next Trump will have the “advantage” of another four years of economic displacement, a slicker media profile undistracted by Trump’s crude buffoonery, as well as advisors like McCain campaign chief strategist Steve Schmidt, whispering lines in his or her ear that sound like bastardized versions of Springsteen lyrics. The hate mongering, racism, and name calling will be toned down for wider appeal.

    Now there’s something to be afraid of.



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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Democracy, Trump