“LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia

The President is issuing dangerous statements.

White House Coronavirus Update Briefing President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus task force, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus update briefing Thursday, April 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus task force, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus update briefing Thursday, April 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Trump is understandably frustrated that the COVID-19 pandemic has much of the American economy shut down, potentially hurting his chances for re-election in November. But he’s acting irresponsibly.

POLITICO‘s Quint Forgey (“Trump breaks with his own guidelines to back conservative anti-quarantine protesters“):

President Donald Trump culminated a swerving, week-long power struggle against the nation’s governors with an apparent endorsement of protesters who have defied leaders of coronavirus-stricken states, public health experts and the most senior members of his own administration.

In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, the president issued an online call to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia — all states where aggrieved residents have gathered in public in recent days to demonstrate in opposition to stay-at-home orders declared by Democratic governors.

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” Trump wrote, followed soon after by a message that read, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” He also tweeted, “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Asked about his tweets at Friday’s White House press briefing and whether those states should lift their stay-at-home orders, Trump said, “No, but elements of what they’ve done are too much. … It’s too tough.”
Earlier in the briefing, Trump said certain states are going to “come online” “sooner rather than later.”

The president’s remarks and social media posts come as some conservative groups have grown increasingly frustrated with the local directives that have slammed the brakes on the U.S. economy, the strength of which had been a key selling point of Trump’s reelection effort.

Trump’s tweets also represent the latest salvo in a rhetorical back-and-forth between governors seeking more robust assistance from his administration and a president loath to accept blame for a federal response that has been widely criticized as inadequate and slow-footed.
Amid the urgent state efforts, thousands of protesters — many wearing Trump paraphernalia — have congregated in the capital cities of MinnesotaMichigan and Virginia, flouting stringent mitigation measures imposed by Democratic Govs. Tim Walz, Gretchen Whitmer and Ralph Northam.

Northam was dismissive of Trump’s unexpected broadside at a news conference Friday, telling reporters that he and his staff are “fighting a biological war. I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars.”
The tweets also came up near the end of a conference call between Senate Democrats and Vice President Mike Pence regarding national testing for the coronavirus.

When Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia asked why the president was trying to incite division online, Pence said the administration would continue to work with governors while also communicating with the American people.

But the Democrats were not satisfied. Kaine called the president’s posts disrespectful, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York pressed the vice president to answer Kaine’s question.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington had an even stronger reaction, issuing a lengthy statement condemning Trump’s rhetoric. His tweets “encourage illegal and dangerous acts” and put “millions of people in danger” of contracting the coronavirus, the governor said.

“I hope someday we can look at today’s meltdown as something to be pitied, rather than condemned. But we don’t have that luxury today. There is too much at stake,” Inslee, a Democrat, added.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday called Trump’s tweets a “distraction” on MSNBC. “I won’t take the bait,” she added.

The president’s suggestion that Americans should disobey state orders directly contradicts his own past statements acknowledging governors’ authority to announce restrictions to combat the disease’s spread.
Asked about the demonstrations at his coronavirus news briefing Thursday, Trump declined to condemn them, instead noting that “they seem to be protesters that like me” and that the marchers had “been going through it a long time.”

NBC News‘ Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny go much further (“In Trump’s ‘LIBERATE’ tweets, extremists see a call to arms“):

When President Donald Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” on Friday morning, some of his most fervent supporters in far-right communities — including those who have agitated for violent insurrection — heard a call to arms.

The tweet was one of three sent from the president’s account, along with “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Trump’s tweets came after small protests by Trump supporters broke out in a handful of states, many of which were fueled by anti-vaccination and anti-government groups. Anti-government sentiment has percolated among far-right extremists in recent weeks over the stay-at-home orders governors have issued to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump’s tweets, however, pushed many online extremist communities to speculate whether the president was advocating for armed conflict, an event they’ve termed “the boogaloo,” for which many far-right activists have been gearing up and advocating since last year.

There were sharp increases on Twitter in terms associated with conspiracies such as QAnon and the “boogaloo” term immediately following the president’s tweets, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, an independent nonprofit group of scientists and engineers that tracks and reports on misinformation and hate speech across social media.

Posts about the “boogaloo” on Twitter skyrocketed in the hours after the president’s tweets, with more than 1,000 tweets featuring the term, some of which received hundreds of retweets.

“We the people should open up America with civil disobedience and lots of BOOGALOO. Who’s with me?” one QAnon conspiracy theorist on Twitter with over 50,000 followers asked.

“Boogaloo” is a term used by extremists to refer to armed insurrection, a shortened version of “Civil War 2: Electric Boogaloo,” which was coined on the extremist message board 4chan.

[…]

Law enforcement officials have previously identified “boogaloo” domestic extremists as a legitimate threat. A report released by the Network Contagion Research Institute about the term “boogaloo” being used to ironically mask violent overthrow attempts had “gone viral” within law enforcement and intelligence communities in February, Homeland Security Advisory Council member Paul Goldenberg told NBC News in February.

The president’s tweets came just minutes after Fox News aired a segment featuring coverage of a Facebook event called “Liberate Minnesota.” Although only a few hundred people expressed interest in the event on Facebook, local news sites and conservative blogs drove attention to the event Thursday, one day before the president’s tweets.

My strong guess is that the President is only vaguely aware of QAnon, much less “boogaloo,” if that. Much more likely is that he saw the Fox segment and decided to amplify it.

Dan Drezner has been curating a Twitter thread for years that has just been turned into an academic press book called Toddler in Chief. His argument, documented by hundreds of examples of Trump’s own staff venting their frustrations with him, is that Trump demonstrates the characteristics of a small child: “Across a range of behavioral and cognitive traits — temper tantrums, a short attention span, impulse control, oppositional behavior, and knowledge deficits — Trump has much more in common with small children than with the 43 men who preceded him.”

This is almost certainly another example of that rather than a conscious attempt to foment rioting and insurrection. That, alas, does not make it any less dangerous.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Donald Trump, Health, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. CSK says:

    He’s playing to his base, but I’m not sure why, since they’ll never abandon him.

    16
  2. MarkedMan says:

    This is almost certainly another example of that rather than a conscious attempt to foment rioting and insurrection.

    Truly curious: why virtually certain? From what I know of Trump’s history, I would say almost the opposite. While it’s impossible to ascribe “a” motive to the roiling infantile mess that is a Trump’s brain, I think it quite likely that the desire for “his” people to start kicking some ass is part of it. He specifically called out second amendment rights.

    21
  3. JohnMcC says:

    Recall those early Trump rallies where he would incite violence against protestors? “Knock ‘im out!”

    Well…

    12
  4. Kit says:

    This is almost certainly another example of that rather than a conscious attempt to foment rioting and insurrection.

    I cannot manage to watch that Fox News segment. Did it mention anything about 2nd amendment rights?

    1
  5. de stijl says:

    That man is a menace to the republic.

    It can be both, you know.

    He has a natural cunning – a low intelligence in PR. He was mentored by Roy Cohen. Any available weapon in a scrap graspable will be used.

    A narcisstictic toddler in chief can also amplify, foment, condone, encourage a nascent rebellion with tweets. You sorta set up a false choice, James.

    Until this crisis Trump bathed in the calming waters of regular campaign rallies that were more akin to ritualistic condemnation of domestic enemies rather than here is my 17 point plan to address income inequality.

    Now, with that rhetoric, we’re supposed to let this roll off our backs?

    That man is a menace to the republic. November is coming soon.

    21
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    Never assume intentionality with Trump. I can’t tell you how many liberal columnists I’ve read over the last three years who posit that Trump is planning, plotting, scheming. No, he’s not. All of that would require Trump to work, and he does not work. It would require him to think, and he does not think.

    My guess is that he’s been watching his Rasmussen poll numbers. Rasmussen has been Trump’s favorite pollster, an outlier which consistently leaned toward Trump. Well, last week Trump was underwater by 11 on Rasmussen and in the latest he’s 7 points down. His Covid bump – pitiful at its best – is now all but gone. Nate Silver has his average at 8 points down.

    So the Toddler-in-Chief sees a world where his polls are going south, unemployment is skyrocketing, recession is upon us and we may be looking at a depression. As a psychopath he knows he’s in danger. When Trump goes so does his corrupt Justice Department and his obstruction of justice. Files will be opened. Facts will be revealed. Trump will be humiliated, bankrupted and quite possibly go to prison. Being a coward and a weak man, he’s afraid.

    This latest is an act of desperation. Trump is frustrated. The governors laughed off his ‘I have total control’ lunacy, as did the whole country. You know how humiliating it was for Trump to have to read his teleprompter concession that it will be governors who decide? It burns, it burns, and he has to lash out.

    I suspect not much will come of this unless there’s a violent incident. Nothing about this reaches beyond the most cultie of the cultists. Most likely outcome is a few scattered protests by the usual Tea Party loons who will have no counter demonstrators to excite their slavering rage. The likely end result will be a revelation of Trump’s impotence. And the rage/fear cycle will worsen as his time grows short.

    Unless someone pulls a trigger.

    28
  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    Just saw this:

    As the death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spiral, most Americans do not foresee a quick end to the crisis. In fact, 73% of U.S. adults say that in thinking about the problems the country is facing from the coronavirus outbreak, the worst is still to come.

    With the Trump administration and many state governors actively considering ways to revive the stalled U.S. economy, the public strikes a decidedly cautious note on easing strict limits on public activity. About twice as many Americans say their greater concern is that state governments will lift restrictions on public activity too quickly (66%) as say it will not happen quickly enough (32%).

    President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak – especially his response to initial reports of coronavirus cases overseas – is widely criticized. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say Trump was too slow to take major steps to address the threat to the United States when cases of the disease were first reported in other countries.

    My bolds.

    If Trump’s campaign people are allowed to tell him the truth then Trump is hearing that he’s quite likely fucked. Hence the panic.

    24
  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    I’ll reiterate a comment from yesterday. At one of these gun toting protests, some sovereign citizen is going to decide to open fire. The republican establishment non-response to Tiny’s minimizing the action will encourage more violence.

    4
  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This is almost certainly another example of that rather than a conscious attempt to foment rioting and insurrection. That, alas, does not make it any less dangerous.

    Especially when they carry guns. An AR-15 is a more appropriate symbol of their latent idiocy than any other I can imagine. It’s a blatant threat to the very people who are working to keep them and every one they love alive.

    3
  10. de stijl says:

    The right to carry / open carry folks are all over this crapola…

    Next rally will have tons of open carry LARPers.

    Intimidation is the goal.

    4
  11. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Never assume intentionality with Trump. I can’t tell you how many liberal columnists I’ve read over the last three years who posit that Trump is planning, plotting, scheming. No, he’s not. All of that would require Trump to work, and he does not work. It would require him to think, and he does not think.

    That’s my view as well.

    19
  12. Kingdaddy says:

    I’m sort of in agreement with @Michael Reynolds. He doesn’t think too far ahead.* He’s frustrated and angry, despite being the President of the United States (his normal state). He sees like-minded, privileged people who are frustrated and angry (Home Depot is closed! To the barricades!). He hopes he can express his own inchoate rage through them. Maybe something bad will happen to someone he doesn’t like. If someone in the mob gets infected, or hurt, so be it. Not his problem.

    On the other hand, I do think he’s terrified of the November election, and he’s already thinking about what he can do to make it into a horrific mess. Malign intervention, “justified” by rioting, doesn’t require thinking too many moves ahead. He probably instinctively feels that unrest is a good excuse for some action that benefits him.

    * On a related note, no one who has been described as playing three-dimensional or four-dimensional chess has ever deserved that compliment. You can be sure that the person in question is never that smart.

    10
  13. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I agree in principle but I think another Oklahoma City is far more likely.

    2
  14. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    Because he’s a one-trick pony and people aren’t applauding his trick today.

    8
  15. CSK says:

    Look, Trump doesn’t think, as most of us understand thinking. He’s said so himself many times. He operates according to what his gut tells him to do. He trusts that more than any expert advice or testimony.

    He reacts to things the way an animal does.

    10
  16. Scott F. says:

    @James Joyner:
    Though, as @de stijl: says:

    a narcisstictic toddler in chief can also amplify, foment, condone, encourage a nascent rebellion with tweets.

    Trump’s “intentionality” is kind of beside of point. A child with a bullhorn and a box of dynamite needs to be grounded so he doesn’t hurt anyone. Trump’s Party has to rein this monstrous behavior in or some people are going to die of something besides COVID-19.

    9
  17. de stijl says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Three dimensional chess is regular person-to-person chess. Length, breadth, depth.

    Forth dimensional chess is either remembering a past move or envisioning a future one. Above + time

    You are likely thinking of 11th dimensional chess.

    Btw, if Trump played chess, his only strategy would be to attack.

    4
  18. Kari Q says:

    Historians: “James Buchanan is the worst president in U.S. history because he allowed the country to drift into civil war without even attempting to prevent it.”

    Trump: “Hold my beer.”

    I agree that he didn’t give a moment’s thought to the consequences of his words. I hope that we won’t have to spend time pondering the extent to which they inspired someone.

    11
  19. gVOR08 says:

    Trump demonstrates the characteristics of a small child

    You, James, and Nancy Pelosi get it. By playing this up as a serious attempt to incite rebellion, the supposedly liberal MSM play right into his tiny little hands. They make him sound strong, which is what he wants. This should be greeted with ridicule, not expressions of concern. “Last week you said you could order restrictions lifted. If you think Michigan is oppressed, why don’t you order it open instead of sending out silly tweets.” How the hell gullible are his base that he gets away with this, ‘I’m your big strong manly leader …. but I can’t do anything because the mean libruls won’t let me.” act?

    And, as always, it ain’t just Trump. My beloved /s Governor DeSantis is playing the same game. He’s ordered a half-assed shut down, only a few businesses, restaurants and gyms, are ordered closed, but I’m prohibited (without enforcement) from traveling for any “non-essential” (undefined) purpose. So businesses are closed but he didn’t order them closed. Rhetorically, like Trump, he’s also trying to have it both ways. He’s even talking about reopening schools ‘cause kids don’t get sick from this, but I expect he’ll find some reason his hands are tied. It’s not working, his approval is down.

    This is GOP 101. Some people think we should take the virus seriously, some think we should go back to normal business. It’s a difference. And one side tends to attract the GOP base, or can be made to do so. So the GOPs are jumping in to widen the rift and exploit it for their political gain. As they’ve done with abortion, guns, gays, and anything else they could exploit to divide the country. Trump will run on this, “I want to open up for you, but they won’t let me.”

    10
  20. James Joyner says:

    @Scott F.:

    Trump’s “intentionality” is kind of beside of point.

    We’re in agreement that the consequence is the same regardless.

    3
  21. SC_Birdflyte says:

    There was a bitter Italian wisecrack about Mussolini during WW2: “He’s the monkey who opened the tiger’s cage.” In watching Agent Orange’s latest performance, I’m not sure whether he’s the monkey or the tiger.

    2
  22. de stijl says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    One thing that riles me is that Open Carry folks invariably sport AR-15 variants.

    From a sport or hunting perspective .223 caliber or 5.56mm is a tweener. Not appropriate for small game or large. Prairie dogs to wolves at the top end. A small, quite fast projectile. It is not a deer gun.

    The reason it is fetishized is that it is militarized.

    10
  23. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    But he doesn’t have a live audience in front of him, cheering his every word, so he’s not doing anything but yelling into a void, is he.

    4
  24. @Kingdaddy:

    If someone in the mob gets infected, or hurt, so be it. Not his problem.

    Indeed.

    “I don’t take responsibility at all.” – DJT earlier this month.

    9
  25. Kari Q says:

    @de stijl:

    The reason it is fetishized is that it is militarized.

    Yes, exactly. Open carry is cosplay. Participants are imagining themselves as latter day Minute Men.

    9
  26. rachel says:

    @de stijl:

    Btw, if Trump played chess, his only strategy would be to attack.

    By throwing the chessmen at his opponent.

    8
  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    One thing that riles me is that Open Carry folks invariably sport AR-15 variants.

    From a sport or hunting perspective .223 caliber or 5.56mm is a tweener. Not appropriate for small game or large. Prairie dogs to wolves at the top end. A small, quite fast projectile. It is not a deer gun.

    The reason it is fetishized is that it is militarized.

    This is actually one of my pet peeves about the Mall Ninja community. Setting aside the fact the entire AR series works on a gas-operated reloading system that makes the rifle a mess to keep clean, why would you go for the AR-15 when the AR-10 is RIGHT THERE and chambered in a far more useful 7.62mm round!?

    6
  28. MarkedMan says:

    If one of these gun fetishists confronts a cop and so much as touches their assault rifle I have absolutely no problem with the cops blowing his messed up head off.

    3
  29. Pete S says:

    Trump and some Republicans have already indicated that they are not just willing but eager to kill people for money by relaxing restrictions too quickly. For instance, gyms moving to phase 1 of reopening after Trump gets a campaign contribution. WWE being declared essential service in Florida after Linda McMahon makes a campaign contribution.

    Encouraging these protests (and it seems at least in Michigan helping to organize) is just another prong in the killing Americans for profit project. I am sorry, I know this is way over the top, but how else can you describe these actions?

    4
  30. de stijl says:

    @Kari Q:

    I prefer your take.

    Cosplay means fake weapons.

    LARPing might involve real ones.

    Unfortunately, next rally will be beset by folks with real weapons.

    My friend does cosplay and she is massively stymied because all her fave stores are closed besides hardware. They are astonishingly inventive as a tribe.

    2
  31. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Cosplay and / or LARPing.

    Because a misunderstanding of hydrostatic shock.

    Because it makes their genitals tingle.

    Because their favorite movies involved dudes sporting M4s heroically.

    Does not really matter why, the fetish is observably there.

    We can mock them, though.

    3
  32. Michael Cain says:

    For some reason, in my head I keep hearing Trump responding to all sorts of questions that might be asked with Goldfinger’s, “No, I expect you to die.”

    5
  33. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Weight.

    The rifle is heavier. The ammunition is heavier. You have to aim properly.

    The Message is intimidation so they use grossly recognizable weapons as props.

    I own a shitty foreign made M4 knock-off with a bunch of after market doodads. I chose to use my disposable income on this fetish.

    I threw my money down the toilet.

    Fear me, libs!

    3
  34. Gustopher says:

    He’s clearly willing to trigger some unhinged gun wielding freak to go on a shooting rampage. And if he keeps it up, it will happen.

    I’m sure it has not occurred to him that if a right wing unhinged gun wielding freak opens fire it will negatively affect his beloved poll numbers.

    I’m also sure it has not occurred to him that there are unhinged gun wielding freaks on the left as well, and that one of them might decide we need to liberate America. The most hated man in America is playing with fire, and he might get burned.

    2
  35. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    The rifle is heavier. The ammunition is heavier. You have to aim properly.

    Which makes sense for actual militaries, but these guys aren’t marching long distances carrying hundreds of rounds.

    (and based on the pictures, if they’re really worried about weight, a diet would go a lot farther than lighter ammo)

    10
  36. Michael Cain says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    (and based on the pictures, if they’re really worried about weight, a diet would go a lot farther than lighter ammo)

    True for so many of us, for so many things. My wife says I would enjoy bicycling more if I had a lighter bike. I point out that compared to the days when I was more serious about it, I’m carrying a bike-and-a-half around all the time.

    4
  37. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Yeah, but I doubt you’re running around in public in a spandex racing unitard pretending you’re about to compete in the Tour de France.

    8
  38. de stijl says:

    Their goal is intimidation.

    A tarted up AR-15 variant is their prop of choice.

    2
  39. Mikey says:

    a Facebook event called “Liberate Minnesota.”

    Might be interesting to figure out who created that particular event, and where in the world they are located.

    5
  40. Kit says:

    @Gustopher:

    The most hated man in America is playing with fire, and he might get burned.

    If he loses the election he gets burned. If the country descends into chaos, he’s gotta be liking his position.

    2
  41. Kurtz says:

    The absurdity of all of this is astounding. The people pushing Trump to re-open the economy are wealthy business owners–exactly the type of people who can ride out a stalled economy indefinitely.

    As I pointed out last night, politicians and bankrollers aren’t in the streets. They organize protests and send radicalized morons to peer into government buildings, screaming and yelling and blocking ambulances. (Seriously, where is Instapundit’s tweet recommending the ambulance “run them down?” I guess the EMTs were Caucasian.)

    In this way, they resemble a drug organization. The people at the top don’t touch drugs or money. The next tier, the most trusted associates, make large deliveries and/or carry out violence, but are smart enough to move silently. The lowest on the totem pole are on the corners, exposed to arrest and physical harm, without knowing anything about what’s going on at the top. To hold it all together, a worldview that dictates how to deal with rivals, law enforcement, and incarceration is taught.

    The funny thing about it is the safest, simplest solution would be to send checks to everyone every month until tracking and testing systems are in place and supplied sufficiently. Ideally, vaccine development would be further along as well.

    In a lot of ways, it makes no sense to me that people want to go to work rather than receive money while we return to some level of safety. Catching up on reading, getting better at photography, writing, video game backlog, whatever. Do these people not have interests or hobbies other than punching a fucking clock?

    Oh, right, they want to go to the gym. You know how inmates stay so buff despite having no access to weightlifting equipment? Pullups, situps, and pushups. Cardio? Jog.

    But they don’t have interests other than bellyaching about how it used to be, and how liberals and brown people are destroying their country.

    Sad.

    10
  42. de stijl says:

    In early to mid game chess, I am not bad.

    I cannot do end game decently at all.

    In offense I chase your king around the board for twenty moves without closing the deal.

    In defense, I hunker down.

    I don’t know why.

    If you are a decent low to mid- level player I can give a decent match until end game when I will continually screw the pooch.

    I stopped playing because it’s really frustrating.

    I am not dense. There should be a path through. Never found it.

    Half the time I checkmated someone was basically by accident.

    2
  43. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Kurtz:

    In this way, they resemble a drug organization.

    No, they don’t just RESEMBLE a drug organization. The Trump family has been involved in organized crime for three generations, and Donald’s real business is laundering money, first for the Genovese family and then for the Russian mob after they took over a lot of their territory in the 90s.

    15
  44. Kurtz says:

    @Mikey:

    “You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the fuck it’s gonna take you.”
    –Lester Freamon, The Wire

    Jaron Lanier described something that happened in Silicon Valley in the 80s. Out of nowhere, a bunch of glossy magazines promoting the hedonistic advantages of Libertarianism–legal drugs, prostitution, and wealth. None of the engineers and tech workers knew who was distributing these publications. Decades later, the source became known–the Kochs.

    Yet while organisers claim the protests are grassroots- and people-driven, a closer look reveals a movement driven by traditional rightwing groups, including one funded by the family of Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

    The rallies have drawn comparisons to the Tea Party movement, which sprang into life in 2009 following the election of Barack Obama and was driven in part by Americans for Prosperity, a group founded by rightwing donors Charles and David Koch.

    As with the Tea Party, the anti-stay-at-home movement has been promoted by a rightwing media eager for the economy to reopen, including Fox News which on Friday aired a segment on protests in Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota. Two minutes later, Trump tweeted to his 77.4 million followers the need to “liberate” those states.

    Follow the money.

    Well, we know some of it. But if we were to find out all of if, there may be a surprise or two.

    10
  45. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    If it makes you feel better, you’re probably screwing the pooch in the beginning and mid-game too, it’s just you’re not good enough to be able to tell that until the end game. =)

    5
  46. Kurtz says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Sure, but I’m speaking generally of the Right Wing ‘grassroots’ protests. The network that funded the tea party, and tried to make it appear to be patriots organizing out of principle, is funding these protests.

    5
  47. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    My money is on Burnsville.

    Middle class quasi exurban.

    White guy with many grievances against black and brown and queer people.

    2
  48. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Very likely true!

  49. Mikey says:

    @Kurtz:

    The network that funded the tea party, and tried to make it appear to be patriots organizing out of principle, is funding these protests.

    Yes. These protests are not grassroots, they are Astroturf.

    4
  50. Mikey says:

    @de stijl:

    My money is on Burnsville.

    Assuming it was started by someone actually located in America.

    2
  51. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    They are real people feeling real feels.

    Their position is not terribly well thought through and public protests now are counter productive, but they are real people.

    Not astroturf bought. Reactionary fools.

    If I met them in person, we wouldn’t share much in common and I would want to disengage quickly, but they are our neighbors.

    We will see more of this behavior.

    It will become a misguided cri de couer guaranteed. Bless their hearts.

    1
  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz:

    Decades later, the source became known–the Kochs.

    Do you have a source for that?

    2
  53. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    I’m also sure it has not occurred to him that there are unhinged gun wielding freaks on the left as well, and that one of them might decide we need to liberate America. The most hated man in America is playing with fire, and he might get burned.

    If Trump wound up being shot, it would be so the height of irony we’d have to retire the word from the language.

    2
  54. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    LoL. Of course Anoka would be even likelier, as that is Michelle Bachman land. Lots of crazies there. Though Burnsville is Jason Lewis territory and he’s nearly as kooky as Bachman.

    A common thread with those folks, is that their great grandparents lived somewhere in Mpls, so that gives them the insight to know the solution to all the city’s problems.

    2
  55. Kari Q says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    According to a friend from Minnesota, Michele Bachman’s parents spelled it with one l so she wouldn’t have the word “hell” in her name.

    2
  56. Michael Cain says:

    There are supposed to be protests at the Capitol in Colorado on Sunday. At least one is being organized by the Libertarian Party. The chairwoman of that group has asked members to wear masks and maintain six-foot spacing. The state patrol, which is responsible for security at the Capitol, pointed out that none of the groups had permits and would be treated like any other protest. At least at the time I worked for the state legislature, the patrol took their job seriously. The nut who took a gun to the governor’s office and refused to put it down when ordered was shot and killed by the patrolman on duty there.

    5
  57. Mikey says:

    @de stijl: These protests didn’t just spring up. They have big financial backing and organization from the wealthy right. Look at the link @Kurtz put up. Astroturf from square one.

    2
  58. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Could be “friendly” Fridley, which trust me ain’t friendly.

    I actually did grow up in South Mpls. Wouldn’t live in the burbs if the house was free. Not my scene.

    @Kari Q:

    You can spell “hell” out of her name, but if karma is a thing Bachman ain’t gonna see the Pearly Gates. Something something by your actions something.

    Of all the folks I knew, the hardcorest ones were from the burbs or tiny outstate towns. Or from Wisconsin.

    Do not get on the bad side of girls from Blackduck. They will straight up destroy you.

    Weird kids from big cities with big school districts have other weird kids to hang with during the weird years.

    If you are a weird kid in Chetek, Wi your options are limited and is truly lucky if someone has your back and stands up for you.

    We all ended up packed into crappy apartments in shitty neighborhoods where we named our vermin. My man Steve was the king of all the mouses. Bold as brass.

    Forget Temptation Island. The amount of interlocking relationships and break ups was staggering. Daily soap opera high drama shit.

    2
  59. dazedandconfused says:

    Displaying his desperate need of a grip, Steven Moore describes the Boogaloos as modern-day Rosa Parks:

    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/18/stephen-moore-trump-coronavirus-protest-193586

    2
  60. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Yes. But give me until later in the evening, I have to check it out. It was in a sam harris podcast. Lanier said that he discussed it in a chapter of one of his books, but that in reality, it could be a book on its own.

    ETA: it won’t take as long, but it will still be an hour or two. The transcript is a mess. But I know where in episode it is, and I’ll transcribe for you a little later.

    2
  61. Kurtz says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is arguably the most difficult thing about chess–many problems in mid-game or late-game are caused by hidden errors earlier.

  62. de stijl says:

    @Kurtz:

    If I had 8 pieces on the board and you three, it would take me way longer than it should to run you down. It would as likely as not that at the end it would be accidental.

    Cannot close the deal. To some extent, story of my life.

    I prefer Go and backgammon. Different sphere, but darts too.

  63. Joe says:

    @Kari Q:
    Wouldn’t have been easier to spell it “Susan”?

    5
  64. Kari Q says:

    @Joe:

    You’d think so.

    I can’t guarantee the truth of the reasoning, but her name is spelled with only one “l.”

  65. de stijl says:

    @Joe:

    or BTO.

    Your avatar is a good, good doggy!

    1
  66. Matt says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Setting aside the fact the entire AR series works on a gas-operated reloading system that makes the rifle a mess to keep clean, why would you go for the AR-15 when the AR-10 is RIGHT THERE and chambered in a far more useful 7.62mm round!?

    First off the AR system is super easy and quick to clean. Much easier than a lot of the rifles out there.

    Second off the AR-15 platform is not limited to .223/5.56. The biggest draw of the AR-15 platform is that the uppers can be swapped to a WIDE variety of round sizes (including 7.62 and bigger) and barrel lengths/twists. Most swaps can be done in a matter of seconds.

    The bigger uppers like the .50 BMG upper for the AR-15 are single shot due to the magazine well size being too small for the round on the ar-15. The AR-10 does handle shotgun shells and larger rounds easier due to the larger magwell.

    I know quite a few people down here who use 5.56 for hog hunting as it’s quite effective. The deer down here are also quite small compared to the ones up north so that matters some.

    @MarkedMan: They aren’t assault rifles. Granted I’m sure some of the dumb asses wish they were. LARPer is a good name for them.

    2
  67. An Interested Party says:

    Encouraging these protests (and it seems at least in Michigan helping to organize) is just another prong in the killing Americans for profit project. I am sorry, I know this is way over the top, but how else can you describe these actions?

    You have nothing to apologize for, as that isn’t over the top at all…

    For some reason, in my head I keep hearing Trump responding to all sorts of questions that might be asked with Goldfinger’s, “No, I expect you to die.”

    This trash isn’t even good enough to be an Austin Powers villain, much less a James Bond villain…

    No, they don’t just RESEMBLE a drug organization. The Trump family has been involved in organized crime for three generations, and Donald’s real business is laundering money, first for the Genovese family and then for the Russian mob after they took over a lot of their territory in the 90s.

    Can you imagine a fictional miniseries about this? Trump wouldn’t be the mastermind, but rather, the useful idiot working for the mastermind…

    1
  68. de stijl says:

    @Mikey:

    If you make the Koch brothers bogeymen, then the right gets to do Soros too. It’s an easy argument easily countered.

    Rich folk slosh money around. I am so shocked.

    The one that does potentially matter is De Vos money if the current Secretary of Education is still involved with that. Bad PR for her nonetheless.

    These were not paid actors, but actual protestors. I call them fools and dupes, but they are real citizens.

    Not a blip. This will expand. Guaranteed.

    Saying it is Koch funded astroturf will not make it go away.

    1
  69. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Matt:

    First off the AR system is super easy and quick to clean. Much easier than a lot of the rifles out there.

    Is this a joke? The AR-15 is notorious for malfunctioning if not being perfectly maintained, a process made more difficult by the fact the original design uses a direct-gas-impingment system that vents combustion gases into the bolt carrier assembly. While some of the copies use a gas-piston system to alleviate this problem, it should be noted those are non-standard parts.

    3
  70. Kurtz says:

    @de stijl:

    That doesn’t make it any less true that, a.) in the present situation, wealthy people are organizing and politicians are encouraging, people to put themselves at risk without taking the risk themselves; and b.) that there is a qualitative difference between what Soros funds, and what Koch, DeVos, et al. fund.

    The Right Wing think tank network is dedicated to imposing ideology on science, e.g. climate change, imposing one particular view of economics as the only legitimate paradigm. It just so happens that the latter undermines democratic principles. What Soros funds is completely different–he promotes open societies and democracy.

    Those two approaches are objectively different, and refusing to acknowledge that isn’t fairness, it is pretzling in order to seem open-minded.

    It’s particularly dangerous in this particular crisis, because it’s one thing for a person to contract an infection after making the choice to protest. But they risk starting a chain of infection that includes others who made the prudent choice.

    If you want to draw an equivalency between what Soros does and what causes people to make this choice, go ahead. But I think it’s a case of you trying too hard to prove you’re level-headed and fair.

    By the way, the protest that woman took her child to was organized by Infowars.

    7
  71. Jim Brown 32 says:

    These idiots are going to be in for a rude awakening when they discover their side isn’t the only one with guns. They can let Trump get them f%8k’d up if they want to….

    3
  72. DrDaveT says:

    @Kurtz:

    In a lot of ways, it makes no sense to me that people want to go to work rather than receive money while we return to some level of safety.

    At minimum wage, $1200 is what? Two weeks’ wages? It’s a great hedge against starvation, but it isn’t anything like the status quo ante. If you’re already in denial about 100 important things, what’s one more?

    1
  73. de stijl says:

    @Kurtz:

    It is a true but ineffective argument.

    What Koch and others fund is their money and their choice.

    They chose poorly. Unless to criminal or banned organizations what they are doing is legal and protected.

    I hope all of their money is wasted on frivolous reactionary bugbears to zero effect.

    I hope we can agree that what Hungary did to the Open Society Foundation (and OS Institute) was wrong, unjust, and without merit. And should be reversed.

    Is it wise? No.

    Is it legal? Yes.

    Leading with “This is funded by the Koch brothers” is true to some extent, but it is also not persuasive to anyone but to your allies.

    It is factual news and should be reported.

    It is not a trump card.

    It does not make the protests go away.

    2
  74. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    At the top, let me say that, as you will see I slightly misremembered. The Koch brothers, among others were behind it. But it’s a non-issue, because the point Lanier makes is that it was coordinated effort. He even calls it propaganda.

    It’s from the episode “Digital Humanism” of Making Sense with Sam Harris.

    I would like to link to the whole episode, but Harris put the second part of his podcasts behind a paywall. So, I sliced the relevant part of the podcast and posted it here.

    I left extra at the beginning for some context. It’s worth a listen. To cut to the chase, the psrt I referred to in the previous post starts at 4:15.

    1
  75. Kurtz says:

    @de stijl:

    I get that you are making an attempt to get us to find ways to persuade people who do not agree with us. But I have serious doubts that anybody persuadable went out and protested.

    This is morbid, and please understand that I am not wishing this on anyone. But the only thing that will persuade Jax Weaver (the lady in the link) of the importance of vaccination or the dangers of COVID-19 is for someone close to her to contract measles or polio or catch the coronavirus and become seriously ill.

    Avoiding the conversation about Koch or Infowars still won’t persuade them of anything.

    I agree with you in spirit. But the people who are persuadable stayed home, even if they aren’t comfortable with how things are right now.

    If the polls on stay at home policies are any indication, the approach Trump has taken, and those who supported it, persuaded quite a few people that they are incompetent.

    One quibble:

    No, the Koch Brothers, and others like them did not “choose poorly.” They accomplished their goals–moving the GOP toward unfettered markets, and muddying the water enough on things like AGW for a significant part of the voting public to either doubt the science or ignore it as a problem for the future.

    They also managed to oust one of the most liked Speakers in recent memory–John Boehner–via the tea party insurgency. They may not have gotten their fantasy, but they certainly stymied the most politically capable Democratic President since FDR. That was certsinly beneficial to their bottom line.

    4
  76. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Sorry, the file didn’t upload correctly. Fixed.

  77. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT: Sadly, you have an unrealistic idea of what minimum wage take home pay is. Minimum wagers don’t quite take home that much in a month.

    1
  78. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz: thanks

    1
  79. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl: First, the right has been demonizing George Soros for years.Nothing we say or don’t say about the Kochs will change that. Neither will anything Soros has or hasn’t actually done.

    The right has made Soros their bogeyman. The Kochs, well now just Charles, made themselves the gray eminences behind RW politics. They funded, and organized funding from others, behind most of the major RW organizations including the Federalist Society and ALEC. They really did astroturf the Tea Party into prominence.

    Soros funded pro-democracy activities in Europe. The Kochs funded anti-democratic activities in the US. So yeah, bothsides, right?

    Knowing this is funded by DeVos and the Mercers won’t make it go away. But maybe, just maybe, the supposedly liberal MSM will be a little less credulous about these “liberate” protests than they were about the Koch funded Tea Party “protests”.

    8
  80. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I acknowledged that it was too little in my post. I specifically argued that people should be getting a steady stream of money until this situation gets resolved.

    The current legislation proposed by, I think, Ro Khanna and someone else would be 2k a month. While it is certainly not enough, it’s better than a one time payment of $1200. That along with restrictions on evictions, negative impact on credit, and other financial problems caused by a shutdown should be enough to ease people’s worries.

    If, once the virus is contained sufficiently to reopen society, the government needs to compensate for back-rent, and mortgage payments, at least renters and those with significant loans can feel like the USFG took care of them along with businesses.

    Do you think that these protests are anything other than a bunch of radicalized people who have let propaganda overwhelm whatever rationality they had? I don’t. But you are one of a few people around here that could possibly persuade me otherwise, so that’s a genuine question.

    4
  81. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08:

    Sometimes, after reading a response to one of my posts, I wonder if I’m off. I didn’t really think this was the case here, but it is nice to know someone else is seeing this the way I am.

    2
  82. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Sadly, you have an unrealistic idea of what minimum wage take home pay is. Minimum wagers don’t quite take home that much in a month.

    Then my point is even stronger, no? This is why sitting around waiting for that check is not satisfactory to a large fraction of the population who is not sophisticated enough to understand the underlying public health rationale.

    1
  83. DrDaveT says:

    @Kurtz:

    Do you think that these protests are anything other than a bunch of radicalized people who have let propaganda overwhelm whatever rationality they had? I don’t. But you are one of a few people around here that could possibly persuade me otherwise, so that’s a genuine question.

    I expect that these protesters were very unhappy about their change of status, and were nudged into public action by propaganda funded by wealthy right-wing donors. The soil was fertile because the federal response was so pathetic; the actual seed was sown by the usual suspects.

    3
  84. Matt says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You sound just like people who talk about M16s but they only had experience with the very first ones that weren’t properly cleaned (manual mistakes etc). The modern AR platform is extremely hardy and reliable. So much so that the last advantage the AK platform had was price and that went out the window a couple years ago. My friend’s AR-15s are easy to clean and every bit as reliable as my saiga (AK-103 made by Izhmash) when dirty. The AR-15s also shoot a much tighter grouping than my saiga.

    Gas piston systems are very much a standard for the AR-15. The whole point of the AR-15 platform is the lego like capability of it. The lower receiver (what’s considered the actual gun) doesn’t have to be modified to switch between the two gas systems. One of my friends actually switches between the two systems depending on what he’s doing. He runs a gas piston upper when he’s doing volume shooting. When he’s shooting for accuracy he uses direct impingement because he swears it’s more accurate. The swap takes a couple minutes to complete…

    Also technically it’s not direct impingement. Eugen Stoner’s original design was more of an internal piston that operates inside the bolt carrier.

    By your standard the vast majority of AR-15s are “non-standard parts”…

  85. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I figured. But I think they have been primed for this for a long time.

    Your response to @MarkedMan is curious to me. I’m not sure I fully agree or disagree. Or, at least, I would go to a different, not necessarily competing explanation.

    I really don’t think it requires sophistication to understand how infection spreads. But the response is linked to the decades long campaign to frighten people. “Freedom ain’t free” isn’t just about soldier at war. It’s about staying vigilant–on watch–for threats to freedom.

    Increasing inequality leads to conspiracism in people who think they are being held back. In good economic times, people dismiss conspiracy theories. It only takes a small increase in the number of people to move toward paranoia, and you get this result.

    If the GOP wasn’t filled with people willing to foment this, it would probably be easier for them to accept. But because the initial response from Trump was to dismiss it as a hoax, people are now willing to believe it is a bunch of would-be tyrants making a power grab.

    3
  86. DrDaveT says:

    @Kurtz:

    Increasing inequality leads to conspiracism in people who think they are being held back. In good economic times, people dismiss conspiracy theories.

    I understand that argument, and I once would have agreed without quibble. But I have increasingly come to believe that there is a certain fraction of the population that is inclined to believe conspiracy theories, regardless of the environment or the subject. I don’t know whether this is nature or nurture or both, but the susceptibility to conspiracy “logic” has been the foundation of right wing support for quite a while. Believing in one conspiracy theory is the best predictor of believing in any other (unrelated) conspiracy theory. See (for example) The Long Con.

    4
  87. de stijl says:

    @Kurtz:

    What is your recourse? How do we make this right?

    Yes, you are correct: Koch is to some degree funding these protests.

    This has been reported.

    Acknowledged repeatedly.

    Where are you going with this?

    If we publicly shame Koch money away, what then?

    1
  88. Kurtz says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I agree with that. I think what feeling powerless does is increase the potential pool open to persuasion. Conspiracism never fully disappears. What waxes and wanes is the number of people willing to consider it.

    However, I am going to pick a book back up that seems to have a well-researched take on this particular discussion. I’ll let you know if I find anything interesting.

    BTW, we never finished our Nixon, dichatomy between social policy ans economic policy discussion from months ago. Not now though, too much other shit going on.

  89. Kurtz says:

    @de stijl:

    Tell a lie long enough and loud enough, people start to believe it.

    Maybe it will work for truth as well.

    There is more to what I think about this topic than that, but it’s late.

    1
  90. Teve says:

    At minimum wage, $1200 is what? Two weeks’ wages?

    Not remotely. After Social Security and Medicare, if you’re working full time, which many minimum wage people are not, that would be slightly over a month of work.

    1
  91. Monala says:

    @Teve: Not after SS and Medicare taxes, before. $7.25 * 40 * 4.33 = $1256. $96 for FICA (7.65%), and let’s say 8% in Fed taxes ($100) leave $1060 for the month.

  92. DrDaveT says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Then my point is even stronger, no?

    I’m surprised I didn’t get more downvotes for this. I should have, given that I got it exactly backwards. Sorry about that, folks. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

  93. Blue Galangal says:

    @Joe: Or “Karen.”