Thursday, April 29, 2021

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

Trumpist Republicans like Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt continue to literally criminalize dissent while screaming about how liberals might criminalize dissent, complete with broad winking and nodding to everyone that turning an "unlawful assembly" into racketeering conspiracy charges for people not present  would never be used against white Oklahomans, just the non-white ones.

Governor Stitt signed a bill adding unlawful assembly to Oklahoma's Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

“This is one of many bills passed this session that is aimed at curbing the increase in rioting we have seen over the past year,” said Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore. “Many otherwise peaceful protests are being co-opted by individuals whose goal is to create and escalate uncontrollable confrontation and mayhem, which is certainly not free speech. What is different about this bill is that it is targeted at those who organize, promote, and otherwise incite the riots, violence, looting, and property damage we’ve seen, even if they are not physically present. These bad actors need to be held accountable for their actions in order to keep both peaceful protestors and the public safe.”

Oklahoma's RICO Act is based on the federal government's statute by the same name which was passed in 1970.

The act allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering as part of a criminal enterprise.

Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville added, “Free speech and peaceful assembly are rights guaranteed under the constitution, and I have previously authored legislation protecting those rights—but riots are unlawful assemblies that can lead to the destruction of private and public property, injuries, and even death,” Daniels said. "Those who organize an unlawful assembly or arrange to disrupt a lawful assembly should be held accountable for their actions.”

We know Republicans are already criminalizing dissent to charge Democrats with felonies at the state level (and the only reason Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was ultimately not charged with two felony counts and a total possibility of eight years behind bars was that the Fulton County DA refused to press charges) so we shouldn't be even remotely surprised at this nonsense.

The bottom line however is that the law is patently unconstitutional, and very clearly targeted at turning any Black Lives Matter protest into an "unlawful assembly" allowing then police to round up "those who organize, promote, and otherwise incite" across the state.

Hopefully the courts rip this one to pieces, otherwise Republicans in Oklahoma will absolutely abuse this.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

So turns out that thanks to Bush-era Warren Terrah rules, the amount of explosives involved in the white supremacist domestic terrorism plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by Trumpist insurrectionists apparently qualifies for WMD charges against the terrorists.

A federal grand jury brought additional charges on Wednesday against three men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, saying they planned to use weapons of mass destruction to blow up a bridge.

Adam Fox, 40, of Wyoming, Michigan; Barry Croft Jr., 45, of Bear, Delaware; and Daniel Joseph Harris, 23, of Lake Orion, Michigan, were charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Fox, Croft and Harris along with Brandon Caserta, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks were arrested and charged in October with conspiring to grab Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home in Antrim County, a rural area in northern Michigan.

Prosecutors said the men, who face up to life in prison if convicted, were part of a plot by a right-wing militia extremist group known as the Wolverine Watchmen to abduct Whitmer in retribution for public health orders she imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

In the new indictment, Fox, Croft and Harris were accused of planning to destroy a bridge near Whitmer's vacation home in order to hinder the response by law enforcement.

The indictment also said that on Sept. 12, 2020, Fox and Croft stopped to inspect the underside of a highway bridge for a place to mount an explosive charge.

The next day, Fox ordered $4,000 worth of explosives for an undercover FBI agent posing as a co-conspirator, the indictment said. It added that about three weeks later, Fox and Harris made payments toward the explosives, the indictment said.

The new indictment also accused Croft and Harris of possessing a "destructive device" that was not registered as required by federal law. It said Harris also possessed an unregistered semiautomatic assault rifle.

Lawyers for the men were not immediately available for comment.
And before we go "Hey Zandar, aren't you against PATRIOT Act abuses especially being used against American citizens?" the answer to that is an unqualified yes, but this is not an abuse. I remind you that this was an organized conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan, strap a bomb to her in order to hold her ransom, and to demand changes to COVID-19 public health regulations or to kill her otherwise. 

This is straight-up the textbook definition of terrorism here, the use of the threat of lethal force in order to enact political changes through fear or terror. Putting these guys in an iron box for a lifetime is not an abuse. (Killing them for it would be an abuse.)

Don't mistake me for a prison abolitionist. There's a wide area between "ban prisons!" and "Reform them to be humane!" and these guys are exhibit A as to why prisons exist in all countries.

These guys are terrorists. Lock them up.

Ridin' With Biden, Con't

President Biden made his first joint address to Congress last night, laying out a massively ambitious program that Republicans instantly despised and gave no indication in GOP Sen. Tim Scott's rebuttal that anything has changed since the Trump regime, other than they believe Trump is still in charge.

President Joe Biden’s address to a joint session Congress was the most ambitious ideological statement made by any Democratic president in decades—couched in language that made it sound as if he wasn’t making an ideological argument at all.

Make no mistake that he was. He called for trillions in new spending in a robust expansion of government’s role in multiple arenas of American life in ways that would have been impossible to contemplate in Barack Obama’s presidency. He plunged into subjects—racial and class inequities, immigration, gun violence—that were rubbed raw until bleeding in Donald Trump’s.

Usually these issues are framed with a question: Which side are you on? Though Biden is rarely described as gifted orator, his speech was a remarkable performance in part because it didn’t soar and largely didn’t even try to. In plain-spoken language, he depicted a breathtakingly large agenda as plain common sense. Instead of imploring partisans to take sides, he projected bewilderment that any practical-minded person of any persuasion could be opposed.

Under a pose of guilelessness, Biden’s speech was in fact infused with political guile. The agenda he promoted to expand both free pre-school and community college, to subsidize the shift to a low-carbon economy, to fund a massive way of new public works construction by taxing the very wealthy, represented years of pent-up demand by progressives. But much of the money would be spent in ways designed to break up the Trump coalition, which was powered heavily by middle- and lower-middle class whites who do not have college degrees with contempt for many parts of the progressive agenda.

Referring to his infrastructure proposal, Biden argued: “Nearly 90 percent of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan do not require a college degree. Seventy-five percent don't require an associate’s degree. The American Jobs Plan is a blue-collar blueprint to build America.”

The bet is that material gains—i.e. a recovery that produces lots of working class jobs and allows families to more easily educate their children—can trump the cultural grievances that sent many of these people into the conservative movement over the past two generations, beginning with George Wallace’s hardhat supporters and later becoming a flood of “Reagan Democrats.”

In fact there was a nod—was it subconscious, or were Biden and his speechwriters thinking of it explicitly?—to one of Reagan’s great arguments, made in 1981 when a 38-year-old Biden had already been in the Senate for eight years. At his first inaugural address, Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Speaking Wednesday to Congress, in which social distancing made the audience on the House floor a small fraction of its usual size for a presidential address, Biden explicitly rejected the conservative notion of government as an outside or hostile force, as distinct from average Americans. “Our Constitution opens with the words, ‘We the People.’ It’s time we remembered that ‘We the People’ are the government,” Biden implored. “You and I. Not some force in a distant capital. Not some powerful force we have no control over. It’s us. It’s ‘We the People.’”

The passage was a notable reminder of the arc of Biden’s career. For most of his half-century in government, Biden has been operating in a climate in which Democrats of his generally centrist ilk had to practice defensive politics. They knew that the union movement that had been the foundation of the old Democratic coalition was steadily weakening. They knew that decadeslong erosion of respect in government and nongovernment institutions had helped fuel a contempt-driven conservative movement. To support Democrats, many people needed constant reassurance that candidates weren’t brazenly or irresponsibly liberal.

The speech was another marker suggesting that the ideological pendulum may have finally swung again at the closing end of Biden’s half-century in Washington

For his part, Biden believes people are ready to support aggressively activist government if the debate is taken out of the realm of symbolism and political abstraction and into the realm of concrete realities of people’s lives. He celebrated the success in soaring far past his goal of 100 million vaccination shots in the first 100 days, and called vaccine distribution in his term, “one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen.”

Maybe less a pendulum swing and more a swift and badly needed correction after the horrible Trump regime, but I'll take it. After my generation being told from birth that "Government itself is evil, and must be fought every step of the way", we finally are coming around to "Government doing good for the people is possible if the right people are in charge" and it's...amazing.

Especially in the 21st century, the argument has gone from "Is government bad?" to "Can government be good?" to "Is government even necessary?"

The answer, in the Biden era, is the Obama promise given form: Yes we can.
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