Worrying developments in the country that brought you Hitler and the Nazis

I’m not sure if it’s justified, but the idea that this kind of stuff is happening in a country with Germany’s history seems extra crazy:

Special Forces in Germany have arrested 25 people suspected of supporting a domestic terrorist organization that planned to overthrow the government and form its own state, the federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.

In early-morning raids carried out across the country, some 3,000 police and Special Forces officers detained people believed to be members and supporters of the group, which prosecutors said had been formed in the past year and was operating on the conviction that “Germany is currently ruled by members of a so-called deep state” that needed to be overthrown. Prosecutors said that two other people had been arrested outside Germany, one in Austria and another in Italy.

Among those detained were a member of the far-right Alternative for Germany party who had served in the German Parliament, a member of the German nobility and a Russian citizen accused of supporting the group’s plans. Federal prosecutors said that they were investigating a total of 52 suspects.

The group’s plans included an armed attack on the German Parliament building, known as the Reichstag, the prosecutors said, and members had organized arms training and attempted to recruit personnel from the German security services. The prosecutors added that the group’s members had also formed a sort of shadow government that they intended to install if their plans were successful. It remains unclear, however, how close they were to acting on those ambitions.

The prosecutors described the group, which they did not identify, as being influenced by the ideologies of the conspiracy group QAnon and a right-wing German conspiracy group called the Reichsbürger, or Citizens of the Reich, which believes that Germany’s post-World War II republic is not a sovereign country but a corporation set up by the victorious Allies.

Many of those arrested had military training and included former German soldiers, including from the army of the former East Germany, and were known to have been heavily armed with weapons acquired illegally. The group was most likely formed in late 2021, the prosecutors said.

It gets weirder and more worrisome:

Among those arrested was a man who had tried to make contact with representatives of the Russian government over the plans, according to the statement, though there were no indications that they had received a positive response from the Russian sources they had contacted.

German news media widely identified the man as Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, a descendant of a former German royal family. The Reuss family has long distanced itself from Heinrich XIII because of his involvement in the Reichsbürger scene.

Another of those detained, identified by prosecutors as Birgit M.-W., was suspected of being appointed to head the justice arm of the group. German media identified her as Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, a judge in Berlin and member of Alternative for Germany. She served as member of Parliament from 2017 to 2021.

Thanks to the internet, these people can now easily find one another and echo chamber their pathologies to one another ad infinitum.

I long for the days when these people used to be isolated cranks who were only able to give voice to their craziness at family gatherings.

“Oh, that’s just Uncle Howard. He thinks he was abducted by aliens and that the government is controlled by lizard people. Ignore him. Here, have some more mashed potatoes.”

Back in the days before World War II when the term “German Royalty” meant much of the British Royal Family before they changed their name to Windsor.

Trump plays QAnon theme song at rally, as followers then give the QAnon salute

This is crazy scary.

I get the impression that most people I know are vaguely aware that QAnon is a cult, but that they are also not aware of just how dangerous it really is.

Former President Donald J. Trump appeared to more fully embrace QAnon on Saturday, playing a song at a political rally in Ohio that prompted attendees to respond with a salute in reference to the cult-like conspiracy theory’s theme song.

While speaking in Youngstown in support of J.D. Vance, whom he has endorsed as Ohio’s Republican nominee for the Senate, Mr. Trump delivered a dark address about the decline of America over music that was all but identical to a song called “Wwg1wga” — an abbreviation for the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.”

As Mr. Trump spoke, scores of people in the crowd raised fingers in the air in an apparent reference to the “1” in what they thought was the song’s title. It was the first time in the memory of some Trump aides that such a display had occurred at one of his rallies.

I’m waiting for someone from the mainstream media to both-sides this with reporting that Democrats played Dixie Chicks at a Biden event.

Trump supporters give the salute of the QAnon cult at Trump’s Sept. 17, 2022 rally.

QAnon-believing father kills wife, family dog; shoots and wounds daughter

Another murder tied to QAnon beliefs.

Police in Michigan say a man opened fire on his family, killing his wife and injuring one of his daughters. His other daughter says he was spiraling out of control before the shootings, blaming it on QAnon.

Rebecca Lanis, 21, says her grandmother called her Sunday morning, asking if she was at the hospital. At a friend’s sleepover and unaware of the tragedy that had just unfolded at her home, she found that a strange question.

But she soon learned that early that morning, her father, 52-year-old Igor Lanis, had shot and killed her 56-year-old mother and critically injured her 25-year-old sister, Rachel Lanis.

The sheriff’s department says Igor Lanis also killed the family dog.

“It was like I was in a movie or nightmare or something. How could this happen to me?” Rebecca Lanis said. “I had a really close bond with my mom, and I just can’t believe that she’s not here.”

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office says when officers responded to the family’s home in Walled Lake, Igor Lanis opened fire on them. A Walled Lake police officer and an Oakland County deputy returned fire, killing the man.

She says her father started getting more agitated at normal things and often found a way to bring up conspiracy theories about vaccines, 5G and electromagnetic fields. He turned to extremism – like QAnon, a political conspiracy theory centered around baseless claims that Trump was fighting enemies within a so-called “deep state” and a sex-trafficking ring run by Satanic cannibals.

Rebecca Lanis says her family’s tragedy is a warning for people to pay attention to their loved ones who may need help.

“I think that people need to focus more on radicalization, QAnon. If they have relatives with guns who are like this, you need to get them help, and they need to get checked into a mental institution, even if you think they’re not dangerous,” she said.

These are the people Fox News and Tucker Carlson are radicalizing.

DeSantis campaign starts spreading QAnon lies about Democrats allegedly coddling pedophiles

Judd Legum over at Popular.Info has really pissed off Ron DeSantis’ people because Legum had the temerity to point out that DeSantis is trafficking in egregious pedophile lies about a Latina lieutenant governor candidate in Florida:

Yesterday’s Popular Information newsletter exposed that DeSantis, his campaign, and the Florida Republican Party were smearing a political rival — Karla Hernández, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Florida, DeSantis and his operatives were claiming that, as president of a teachers union, Hernández “protected a sexual predator for years and accompanied him through numerous investigations into his sexual assaults of multiple students.” The truth, as Popular Information documented, is that Hernández did nothing to protect the sexual predator, Wendell Nibbs, and never accompanied him to any investigative hearing or proceeding.

The DeSantis campaign did not respond to Popular Information’s request for comment prior to publication. Instead, after publication, the DeSantis campaign repeatedly attacked Popular Information on Twitter and accused this newsletter of promoting “disinformation.” On the campaign’s official Twitter account, @DeSantisWarRoom, it attacked Popular information at least 9 times. These tweets were then amplified by campaign staffers, including Director of Rapid Response Christina Pushaw.

The DeSantis campaign suggested Popular Information’s report that Hernández took office as president of the Miami-Dade teachers’ union (UTD) on May 2016 was inaccurate. Popular Information’s report, however, is correct. Hernández was elected to the position in March 2016 and took office two months later.

The exact date that Hernández took office is irrelevant to the very serious allegations the DeSantis campaign made against Hernández. But the DeSantis campaign is unable to provide any evidence to back up its claims. The Orlando Sentinel asked the DeSantis campaign to substantiate its allegations, and it did not go well:

Asked what proof the governor had for the basis of his allegations, Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, deferred the question to campaign staff.

The campaign sent a flyer from the Republican Party of Florida that repeated the allegation that Hernandez-Mats protected Nibbs and a Miami Herald article about the investigation, which also described his support of her candidacy for union president in 2016, but nothing that showed she protected Nibbs or hindered the investigation.

DeSantis is much more dangerous than Trump has ever been because DeSantis is not a moron, but also because DeSantis can give Trump a run for the money in terms of lacking any moral center whatsoever.

This tendency for DeSantis to readily disseminate QAnon-inspired lies about Democrats being pedophile-enablers — even when confronted with proof they are lies — proves that DeSantis will do anything to get elected.

DeSantis really scares me because he is probably the cunning and capable proto-fascist about which billionaires on the American extreme Right have daydreamed. Last time they made the mistake, by default mostly, of backing an idiot.

They aren’t making that mistake again.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, left, is running against Ron DeSantis in Florida. Beside Crist in his running mate, Karla Hernandez, who is being smeared QAnon-style as a pedophile-enabler by the DeSantis campaign.

Insurrection-linked GOP candidates have had mixed results so far in primaries

The folks over the Open Secrets have an interesting piece up about the successes and failures of GOP candidates who have been linked to either the Jan. 6 insurrection, a refusal to accept the 2020 presidential election results — or both:

While dozens of state and federal candidates who traveled to Washington, D.C. for demonstrations on the day of the the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have achieved fundraising success, they face mixed outcomes in their states’ primaries.

OpenSecrets has linked at least 32 candidates for federal and state office in 2022 to demonstrations in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 by examining social media posts, public statements and outside reporting as well as lists from POLITICO and Axios.

Two of the candidates face charges related to the violence on Jan. 6 — Mark Middleton, who mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Texas state legislature, and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, Both Middleton and Kelley were arrested on multiple charges including physical violence and entering a restrictive area.

Many of the candidates linked to Jan. 6 claim they left before the crowd grew violent.

It remains to be seen whether voters turn away from candidates associated with Jan. 6, especially as the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the United States Capitol reveals what it has learned. The hodgepodge group of political newcomers and incumbents attracted millions in political contributions and outside spending but has seen mixed results in primary elections.

You can read the article — a mix of good and bad news — here.

As far as which of these loony candidates to watch next, see the graphic from Open Secrets below.

Democrats put their money into the campaign of a hard-right GOP gubernatorial candidate who just won his primary in Maryland

Republican voters in Maryland — a state where Trump lost 2-to-1 in the last election — have selected in this week’s primary a MAGA kook, rather than the staid, pro-business acolyte of wildly popular outgoing GOP Gov. Larry Hogan.

QAnon nut Daniel L. Cox will now run against a Democrat who will not have to work very hard to make themselves more palatable than Cox. (Final results of Democrat primary still not in.)

As a side note, Democrats spent a lot of money on a spoiler tactic of getting Republican Cox elected, in a move that brought pooh-poohing from the tennis-and-martinis set writing the Washington Post‘s house editorials:

In today’s political landscape, his fringe views are not a joke; they are a menace. Last year, he arranged three buses to convey his constituents to the Jan. 6 rally that Mr. Trump had promised would be “wild” and that became, by design, a blood-spattered insurrection. At the very moment that violent rioters stormed the Capitol, beating and injuring scores of police officers, he tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor” for refusing to reject the certification of the election. As a mouthpiece for the Trumpian lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, Mr. Cox has positioned himself squarely as an enemy of democracy.

Maryland Republicans have made their choice — for a candidate described by Mr. Trump as “100 percent MAGA.” They made it despite the availability of a stark alternative, Kelly M. Schulz, a close political ally of term-limited GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. She served in his Cabinet for nearly the entirety of his eight years in office, first as labor secretary and then, until January, as commerce secretary. In turning their backs on Ms. Schulz, primary voters spurned a pro-business pragmatist in the mold of Mr. Hogan, whose moderate Republicanism and contempt for Mr. Trump have made him one of the nation’s most popular governors. His stratospheric approval levels might easily have helped propel Ms. Schulz, whom he warmly endorsed, to the governorship. She could have been the first woman to hold the job.

By contrast, Mr. Cox moved to impeach Mr. Hogan, a governor of his own party. He got no serious support in that gesture from either party — a indication of how he is regarded by his colleagues in Annapolis.

Democrats are delighted to have Mr. Cox on the ballot, and they played a part in his win. The Democratic Governors Association spent $1.2 million on advertising and mailers designed to elevate Mr. Cox, calculating that he would be easy prey in November. That assessment is probably accurate. Nonetheless, if by some remote chance it is wrong and some unforeseeable chain of events leads to Mr. Cox moving into Government House in Annapolis, Democrats will rue their cynical action.

Democrats would be stupid not to use the tactic of trying to get a spoiler Republican candidate on the ballot in some elections where it makes sense. Republicans do it all the time. In fact, Republicans run actual straw candidates all the time in order to gum up Democratic primaries.

Not to pile on President Biden, whom I will ultimately support if he becomes the nominee. But he has long traveled in the rarefied environs of the kinds of charity events where you rub shoulders with the owners and very top echelon of the Washington Post. He belongs to an era where the right kinds of people belonged to the right kinds of clubs and sent their kids to the right kinds of schools.

Places where a sitting president might play a couple rounds of genteel golf with the executive editor of the Post and the opposition leader in the U.S. Senate, and hammer out a “gentleman’s agreement” about how to advance important legislation in ways that benefits both parties and, possibly, the American people.

Mind you, it was still all, to use the Post’s word, “cynical.” Just not overtly so. Everyone went along to get along. In public.

Times have changed, of course. The Republicans stole at least one Supreme Court seat. They regularly play the part of Lucy to the Democrats’ Charlie Brown, as the GOP keeps yanking that football at the last second, leaving the Democrats flat-footed. Cynical isn’t even their fallback position. They lead with it.

So, good for Maryland Democrats for playing politics the way they should be played in 2022.

Yes, the spoiler candidate gambit might backfire now and then, although the performative hand-wringing by the Post about it happening in Maryland’s governor’s race is silly unless the Democratic candidate, whomever that ends up being, does something truly shocking and immoral before the general election.

You can read the rest of the WaPo editorial here.

GOP primary winner Cox on primary election night.

Steve Bannon may be the most dangerous man to democracy’s future

Right-wing bomb thrower Steve Bannon has arguably been the chief architect of the far Right’s burn-it-all-down philosophy and tactics. He wants to destroy Democrats, of course. But he also wants to destroy much of the GOP in the process. He revels in political and social anarchy as means to his ends.

So, news that he might testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection has caused much in the way of speculation as to his motives. Is he hoping to influence outcomes in his related legal battles? Will he try to obfuscate the committee’s findings and sow discord about its motives? Is he simply trying to raise his profile for the many shady ways he raises money from dupes in red America while he lives in fancy houses, stays in opulent hotels, and luxuriates on private yachts?

There’s a good article up at Vox by Sean Illing that tries to examine Bannon and the many ways in which he is opaque by design, and what he might be up to next.

Illing interviews Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jennifer Senior who has written extensively about Bannon.

Here’s an excerpt:

Sean Illing

Well, it’s interesting that you use the word televangelist there [to describe Bannon]. When I think of a televangelist, I think of a bullshit artist, I think of a religious entrepreneur.

Do you think he is just a complete grifter? I mean, I honestly don’t know if he’s a revolutionary or just a well-financed shitposter. I guess I’m asking if you think he really believes in what he’s doing. I think he knows when he’s full of shit, but the question is, does he see it as a means to some noble end or is it just the grift and nothing besides?

Jennifer Senior

It’s the best question. And it’s what I set out to answer.

The problem is that when somebody is as practiced at bullshitting as he is, the answer in some ways has to be both. Because you can’t have two sets of books for very long without, in some way, trying to intellectually reconcile them, so that you’ve only lied once. And then afterwards you believe your own lie. I think that that might just be the psychology of grifting.

We know that he’s living very lavishly, thanks to others. He’s got houses all over the place. He’s partial to nice hotels. When he was trying to get the European populist nationalist movement off the ground, he stayed in all these fabulous luxury suites financed by others. He takes private jets that are owned by others. The Mercers underwrote him.

So I think it’s kind of not a choice. It might be both.

What is interesting is, if you ask anybody around Steve, if you ask the people who know him and who like him, does he truly believe that the election was stolen? The number who will say, yes… Did anyone say yes to me, now that I think about it? Oh my God. I mean, so many people, if they’re trying to protect him, they’ll say they don’t know.

No smart people, no people who live within the Beltway who know how politics works, no one who really knows anything about elections believes this election was stolen. That’s the bottom line.

And the January 6 hearings played this out.

You can read the rest here. I learned new things about Bannon, and that’s saying a lot because I’ve read a lot about him.

QAnon cult heading to Dallas for JFK Jr.’s imagined return — again

Back on Nov. 22 of last year (the anniversary of President Kennedy being shot) hundreds of QAnon believers were in Dealey Plaza, the site of JFK’s assassination, completely convinced that JFK Jr. was going to suddenly appear and take charge of their movement. It never happened and the entire incident was super weird.

Well, they’re back and still following the guy who predicted the failed JFK Jr. appearance last time:

It’s been 220 days since more than 1,000 people traveled from across the U.S. to Dallas at the behest of Michael Protzman, a QAnon influencer known as Negative 48, who promised his followers that John F. Kennedy would reappear at Dealey Plaza. JFK didn’t reappear, of course, but the QAnon cult is now returning to Texas.

More than seven months after the group first met in Dallas, it is heading back to the city this weekend after Protzman once again promised that JFK would reveal himself to the group, proving once and for all that he is, in fact, the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Protzman has already checked into the Hyatt Regency, where hundreds of people gathered back in November.

“What started in Dallas ends in Dallas,” one member of a Telegram group linked to the cult wrote on Friday morning.

Earlier this week, Protzman, in hours-long audio chats on his Telegram channel, laid out what he predicted would happen this weekend. He told his followers that JFK would only reveal himself to those willing to travel to Dallas on Saturday. This would be followed by 10 days of darkness before JFK would finally reveal himself to the world.

A core group of followers remained in the city for months after their initial gathering, before going on tour to follow former President Donald Trump at rallies across the country. In that time, Protzman has destroyed relationships, financially ruined families, and pushed increasingly erratic and wild conspiracies about Trump, JFK and the Ukraine war.

It’s unclear how many people will be in Dallas this weekend, but a review of posts on Telegram, as well as videos posted by those already in Dallas, suggest that at least dozens of people will once again make the journey.

These people would be hilariously cuckoo if so many of them weren’t armed and completely devoted to their mass hysteria.

Dealey Plaza in Dallas (Wikimedia Commons: Grosse)