The Long Overdue Gateway Pundit Lawsuit

The right-wing site Gateway Pundit is being sued. About time.

I’ve cited Gateway Pundit and its founder, Jim Hoft, many times over the years. GP is the place to go if you’re itching for the latest news on Hunter Biden’s laptop. Yeah, that’s still a thing. Hoft is a variation of Alex Jones, but dumber. See, for example, When Being an Obama Supporter Is Unacceptable from 2012.

News of the suit caused me to check out current headlines. Here’s a juicy one — Biden’s DOJ Releases Memo that Totally Blows Away the ‘Trump Incited an Insurrection’ Narrative. Wow, that would be a big deal. Amazing no one else is reporting on it.

So what does this memo say? This sentence —

“It is objectively unreasonable to conclude that President Trump could authorize citizens to interfere with the Electoral College proceedings…”

See? Trump couldn’t have done it. Of course, what the document is saying is that Trump had no authority to tell people to march to the Capitol and interfere with the election, not that he didn’t tell people to march to the Capitol and interfere with the election. Truly, it’s for good reason that Hoft has long been known as the Dumbest Man on the Internet.

The suit was filed by two Georgia election workers — Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss — who were singled out by Hoft and accused of stuffing ballot boxes with fake ballots for Biden. The New York Times reported,

Ms. Moss, who continues to work for the Fulton County elections board, and Ms. Freeman, a temporary employee during the 2020 election, were ensnared by the Trump-supporting media and Mr. Trump himself after Gateway Pundit published dozens of false stories about them, starting last December and continuing through this November. The stories called the two women “crooked Democrats” and claimed that they “pulled out suitcases full of ballots and began counting those ballots without election monitors in the room.”

Investigations conducted by the Georgia secretary of state’s office found that the two women did nothing wrong and were legally counting ballots.

For example, here is one of Hoft’s stories, from December 2, 2020. What’s Up, Ruby?… BREAKING: Crooked Operative Filmed Pulling Out Suitcases of Ballots in Georgia IS IDENTIFIED. This is classic Hoft. The post is illustrated with fuzzy photos that have been doctored with circles and arrows. The text tells you that photos show you ballots being manipulated. But in truth, without the captions you wouldn’t know what was going on in the photos. Well, with the captions you still don’t know what’s going on in the photos.

Reuters has a special report about this incident and what came next — Trump campaign demonized two Georgia election workers – and death threats followed. It’s not clear whether the story about the fake ballots originated with Hoft or somewhere else. It might have originated with the Trump campaign, which fed the story to Hoft. But Ruby Freeman’s name was soon all over right-wing media. Trump himself referred to Ms. Freeman several times in his infamous call to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump said, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.”

Predictably, MAGA thugs began to terrorize Freeman and Moss, who are black. From Reuters —

Freeman made a series of 911 emergency calls in the days after she was publicly identified in early December by the president’s camp. In a Dec. 4 call, she told the dispatcher she’d gotten a flood of “threats and phone calls and racial slurs,” adding: “It’s scary because they’re saying stuff like, ‘We’re coming to get you. We are coming to get you.’”

Two days later, a panicked Freeman called 911 again, after hearing loud banging on her door just before 10 p.m. Strangers had come the night before, too. She begged the dispatcher for assistance. “Lord Jesus, where’s the police?” she asked, according to the recording, obtained by Reuters in a records request. “I don’t know who keeps coming to my door.”

“Please help me.”

Freeman quit her temporary election gig. Moss took time off amid the tumult. The 37-year-old election worker, known for her distinctive blonde braids, changed her appearance. Moss often avoided going out in public after her phone number was widely circulated online. Trump supporters threatened Moss’s teenage son by phone in tirades laced with racial slurs, said her supervisor, Fulton County Elections Director Richard Barron. …

…Their modest incomes left the two women with little power to defend themselves against the billionaire president and his legions of backers. After Freeman went into hiding, she initially stayed with friends. They soon asked her to leave, fearing for their own security, so she moved from one Airbnb to another, never staying in one place for too long, said a person with direct knowledge of her movements. Freeman went to great lengths to conceal her identity and location, the person said. She stopped using credit cards and started using a system for electronic money transfers that caters to people wanting to keep a low profile, the person said.

The constant threats so terrified the two women that they did not return calls from Fulton County District Attorney’s Office investigators who wanted to talk to them this summer as part of their probe into whether Trump illegally interfered with Georgia’s 2020 election, Barron said. “They wouldn’t even answer the phone,” he said.

See also Raw Story, ‘You should be hung!’ How Trump supporters drove two Georgia election workers into hiding.

This is horrible. These women must have been scared out of their wits, for good reason. This is how black people in Georgia end up dead. But Hoft shows no remorse. Yesterday he ran an article headlined Interesting. FBI Investigated Alleged Threats to Ruby Freeman but There Is No Record of FBI Investigating the Illicit Late Night Actions at State Farm Center.

We know there was no ballot-box stuffing; Georgia re-counted the ballots three bleeping times, three bleeping ways. Trump lost every time. Election officials in Georgia, including Republican officials, keep verifying that Freeman and Moss did nothing wrong. What you see in (not manipulated) videos and photos is what ballot counting looks like.

Ruby Freeman used have a small business selling ladies accessories from a kiosk at a mall, but that had to be closed. I wish Freeman and Moss all the best with their suit, which seems strong to me, and hope Jim Hoft gets taken to the cleaners. A whole lot of right-wing sites that have demonized and doxxed innocent people over the years need to learn there are consequences for causing harm.

See also:

Ben Collins, We need to learn how to talk to (and about) accidental conspiracists

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 04: Election workers count Fulton County ballots at State Farm Arena on November 4, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2020 presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is still too close to call with outstanding ballots to count. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Dumb and Dumber

Last night a couple of right-wing loons tried to shut down the performance of Julius Caesar in Central Park. I found a photo of one of them and annotated it:

You are welcome to use the image wherever. See the New York Times and Washington Post on what went down. I already wrote the New York Times:

Regarding “Two Protesters Disrupt “Julius Caesar” in Central Park” (June 17) — The alleged disruptors are guilty of massive cultural illiteracy, since Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a warning against violence, not a celebration of regicide. They should be required to watch or read the play and write essays explaining what it’s about. Failing that, they could be sentenced to wearing dunce caps and writing “I will stop being a culturally illiterate twit” on a blackboard ten thousand times. And put a film of that on social media, please.

See also:

Imagine the World’s Biggest Face Palm

We’ve been talking about Really Serious Stuff around here for awhile, and it’s time to lighten up. But first, whatever you are doing now, please be sure to put your beverage aside — ladies and gentlemen, I give you … Ammon Bundy’s legal defense.

And it is: The feds have no jurisdiction over federal land.

I’ll pause now to let you catch your breath.

From the Guardian:

Bundy, who led an armed occupation of the Malheur national wildlife refuge, has long claimed that the federal government has no right regulating public lands in the west, and now his legal team is bringing that argument directly to US prosecutors, who have filed a slew of serious felony charges against the activist.

The new motion, which lays the groundwork for a request to dismiss the criminal case against Bundy, presents an argument that legal experts have rejected as an inaccurate interpretation of the US constitution – that the federal government has unlawfully claimed ownership over the wildlife refuge and other public lands.

Talking Points Memo elaborates:

“Once statehood occurred for Oregon, Congress lost the right to own the land inside the state,” the defense argued in the brief.

Bundy’s defense is expected to argue in court that Malheur was not federal land because it had been doled out to homesteaders and was “relinquished.” It is also expected to “provide evidence about foundational documents from the Federal Convention of 1787.”

Prosecutors will prepare a rebuttal as soon as they stop giggling, I’m sure.

We Knew This Was Coming

Regarding the violence breaking out in Trump rallies — how many of us have been saying for years that the Right would probably turn violent if they perceived they were losing power? Inflammatory rhetoric has been priming them for years. And they finally figured out the Republican Party elites weren’t leading them where they thought they were going.

All they needed was some two-bit demagogue giving them permission to act out their inner bigot.

The Los Angeles Times has a story about how some student groups at U of Chicago got together to shut down Trump’s rally Friday night.

Planning for the event started Monday night, when leaders from a range of groups gathered in a campus lecture hall. They included the Black Student Union, the Muslim Student Assn. and the Fearless Undocumented Association, which advocates for immigrants in the country illegally.

Other local and national activism groups also got involved, including some local labor organizations, Black Lives Matter and MoveOn.Org, which has endorsed Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.

Interesting. Anyway, I agree with Dave Neiwert, who writes,

Any kind of violence, even defensive or responsive, from Trump’s opponents is going to be used as an excuse to escalate, ad infinitum.

This is a very dangerous time, and progressives are going to have to be smart about how they confront this tactic, which is going to happen increasingly as the election year drags along. They are going to have to be incredibly disciplined, and incredibly committed to nonviolence when confronted with the viciousness of the budding Brownshirts on the other side.

Yesterday Trump tweeted, “Bernie Sanders is lying when he says his disruptors aren’t told to go to my events. Be careful Bernie, or my supporters will go to yours!” To which Sanders responded, “Send them. They deserve to see what a real honest politician sounds like.”

David Atkins has been writing some great stuff at Washington Monthly this weekend, such as why Karl Rove and David Brooks are worse than Trump. And why Donald Trump is Merely the Symptom. The Republican Party Itself is the Disease. But I want to call your attention particularly to How Clinton’s Reagan-AIDS Gaffe Helps Explain Why Populism Is Rising.

When we look at the populist movements taking hold of both of the left and the right in America, a common thread is anger at elites who seem to be more interested in maintaining a comfortable duopoly than in actually solving problems. There’s a sense that America is governed by a set of wealthy and entrenched incompetents who are so socially and economically enmeshed with one another that they’re incapable of holding one another to account or feeling the pain of normal Americans.

As Chris Hayes explains in his tremendous book Twilight of the Elites, American contempt for institutions and their leaders derives from the poisonous effect of the social connection and comfort of those classes: wealthy political elites go to all the same cocktail parties and their kids all go to the same fancy schools. They buy into each others’ myths, they lose touch with reality and they lose the ability to hold each other to account.

Pretty well said.

Community Service

It’s only March and I’m already in the ohgodwhenwillthisend phase of the political year. So let’s think about something more cheerful.

The Malheur Malcontents are still in jail. That’s something.

Saturday the faithful held demonstrations of support for the imprisoned, um, patriots. More than one hundred people rallied outside the Portland federal courthouse.

The so-called patriot movement made efforts to broaden its message to connect with other activist groups like Black Lives Matter. …

…“These people that are in these cells up here, right now, they’re guilty of a community service act,” said Rich Morelan, an Aumsville, Oregon, man who helped organize the protest. “They came in and they cleaned that [refuge] building up. There was no violence.”…

…The Malheur refuge was found in a state of disarray, the manager calling it “one big mess.” The Paiute tribe is still reeling from the disruption of their sacred sites on refuge grounds.

“Imagine if I went to Washington, D.C., to the cemetery where all the military are and dug a hole and made a latrine out of it, like they did to my people’s burial grounds,” he said. “That’s the only way I can explain it to non-natives.”

Cliven Bundy appeared before a federal judge Friday.

Bundy, 69, stood with a deputy federal public defender at his side as he heard the 16 charges against him including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States, assault on a federal officer, threatening a federal officer, obstruction of justice, interference with interstate commerce by extortion and several firearms charges.

There is some question about whether Cliven qualifies for a public defender.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Carl Hoffman said Bundy would remain in custody until at least next Thursday. The time will let him hire a lawyer or file revised financial disclosure forms.

The judge expressed doubt about whether a report that Bundy filed in Oregon qualifies him for a lawyer at federal expense.

Cliven own a ranch and a whole lot of cattle, right? Turns out rounding up Cliven’s cattle won’t be easy.

The 69-year-old landowner, whose ranch 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas was the scene of a 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, was arrested last month on charges related to the Nevada incident when he left his ranch to travel to Oregon, where his sons were involved in another standoff with federal officials. Meanwhile, his 1,000 head of cattle are still roaming federal lands due, in part, to his absence and also to what officials call his “unconventional, if not bizarre” ranching methods.

“Rather than manage and control his cattle, he lets them run wild on the public lands with little, if any, human interaction until such time when he traps them and hauls them off to be sold or slaughtered,” said court documents filed by federal prosecutors last month. “He does not vaccinate or treat his cattle for disease; does not employ cowboys to control and herd them; does not manage or control breeding; has no knowledge of where all the cattle are located at any given time; rarely brands them.” …

… With Bundy in prison, his cows are “left to fend for themselves year-round, fighting off predators and scrounging for the meager amounts of food and water,” according to federal prosecutors. In addition, the authorities maintain that the surviving cattle are “wild, mean and ornery” and are destroying fragile plant species and even destroying sacred Indian artifacts.

No wonder he had plenty of time to stand around talking to journalists. He doesn’t do any work. Apparently if he needs to sell some cattle he goes out and traps some. They also show up on roads and golf courses and other people’s property. Sounds like rounding them up and getting them off that land would be a real community service.

There were more arrests last week of “militia” members who participated in the 2014 standoff. These included two more of Clivin’s sons — Davey, 39, and Mel, 41 — and Jerry DeLemus, the New Hampshire co-chair for Donald Trump.   I’m surprised there were enough un-arrested people left to hold demonstrations. Lots of felony charges are being brought against these guys; I suspect their bad ranching days are over.

Meanwhile, the people who run Malheur say it’s a big mess. Not much structural damage, but files were scattered and the offices need a lot of cleaning. Also there was a lot of habitat work that had to be postponed because of the occupation.

Meanwhile, Back at the Bird Sanctuary …

I know we’ve all moved on from the clown-shoe occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but the last of the occupiers have not moved on. Four of the brave and resolute patriots remain on the Refuge, saying they will not leave unless they are promised law enforcement will not be mean to them, and that they will not be arrested. However, a federal grand jury just indicted their sorry butts, so I doubt that’s going to be an option.

Presumably speaking from a jail cell, this week Ammon Bundy issued an order to state and federal authorities to go home.

Ammon Bundy, leader of the monthlong armed occupation of a federal wildlife refuge, said from jail Thursday that the takeover was “a needed action” and called on state and federal law enforcement officials to leave eastern Oregon. …

…”Government officials chose to end our educational efforts with attacks of force and it appears they attempt to do it again,” Bundy said in the minute-and-a half statement. “Go home, Oregon State Police. You have already killed enough. Go home, FBI. It is time to end this.”

Also, a bill has been introduced in Congress that would make the occupiers responsible for paying for the extra law enforcement their occupation required, and also for any damage they’ve done to property on the Refuge. They’ve run up about a million dollar tab so far.

A Bang and a Whimper

So the Bundy boys and some of their followers are in FBI custody. LaVoy Finicum, the “live free or die” warrior known for taking in foster children to work on his unprofitable ranch so he could collect government checks has been killed. So far no details have been released describing Finicum’s death, but already the Web is buzzing with the rumor that Finicum was shot trying to surrender.

Before Finicum’s death was even confirmed, supporters rushed to portray him on social media as a martyr who, according to unverified accounts, had his hands up and was unarmed when he was shot. Law enforcement sources told CNN that Finicum and Ryan Bundy were the only two leaders who did not surrender during the confrontation.

One of the crew at Gateway Pundit, official home of the Dumbest Man on the Web®, reported that “The man was on the ground hands up, unarmed and cooperating. A real need to be shot three times.”

Those details hasn’t been reported anywhere, so how he could have known that is a mystery. And I didn’t think Finicum was ever unarmed. I imagined he had a gun and holster strapped around his PJs when he brushed his teeth at night. But perhaps Black Lives Matter has a surplus “Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ T-shirt this guy could buy .

USA Today reports that five or six of Bundy’s followers remain at the wildlife sanctuary they’d been occupying.

Visions of SOTUs Dancing in Their Heads

I didn’t get to watch the SOTU last night, so I’ve been catching up by reading reviews. I like something Nancy LeTourneau said at Washington Monthly. She is responding to this part of the President’s speech:

The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates…

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

On this, LeTourneau remarked,

That is quintessential Obama. If you don’t understand the basics of what he is saying here, almost nothing he does will make sense to you. In his quest to forge an identity out of the the divergent forces of his own personal background, Barack Obama crafted a world view that values those differences and the wisdom that comes from the democratic process of respectful – if sometimes heated – dialogue. Even more than any one particular policy position, President Obama elevates that process as the priority for the survival of our democracy.

The reason the Republicans have adopted a strategy of spreading fear, anger, cynicism and distrust is because that form of engaged democracy is the biggest threat to their interests.

“If you don’t understand the basics of what he is saying here, almost nothing he does will make sense to you.”   I could expand that to say, if you don’t understand the basics of what he is saying here, almost nothing proposed by genuine progressives will make sense to you.

Go back to the first sentence in the SOTU quote above — The future we want – opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all that is within our reach. This is the liberal/progressive vision in a nutshell. This has been true since Teddy Roosevelt’s New Nationalism speech. It was clearly expressed in another State of the Union speech, delivered by Franklin Roosevelt in 1941:

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

Jobs for those who can work.

Security for those who need it.

The ending of special privilege for the few.

The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

These are the simple, basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

Truly, these ideals have never been fully realized. But working toward this is what the United States is about — to liberals.

I don’t think the Right wants that stuff. They may say they do, but their votes say otherwise.  All they seem to want is wealth and power for themselves, and if that’s at the expense of others (including fellow Americans), so be it.  And because they don’t understand what we lefties hope to achieve, nothing we do or say makes sense to them. All they understand is power and privilege.

Le Tourneau writes, “Even more than any one particular policy position, President Obama elevates that process as the priority for the survival of our democracy.” These days, this is is a liberal-progressive way of seeing things. I know I’ve written in the past that righties have no respect for the importance of process, although I can’t find that post now.  And this is turning the norms of political science on its head. It used to be the “conservative” impulse to protect and preserve process, the traditional wheels and levers that make things work, and “progressives” who wanted to smash the old way of doing things to try something new. Today’s Right cares about nothing but outcome. If they have to smash through tradition and established procedure to get where they want, no problem.

I noticed that some right-wing commenters though last night’s SOTU was “boring.” Righties tend to claim boredom when confronted with an argument they can’t easily refute. Opportunity, fairness, equality, sustainability, peace — yeah, boring stuff. Never mind that these things would benefit them as well; somehow, such things feel like a diminishment to them. Let’s hate! Let’s drop bombs! Let’s tweak the economy so that we can all we rich! Let’s drill for oil until the sun don’t shine! That’s the ticket!

Elsewhere — responding to a Peter Baker column, Steve M writes that President Obama’s optimism is not really anything like Ronald Reagan’s “sunny disposition” back in 1980. Reagan projected cheerfulness, but his words warned of doom and promoted divisiveness. And it’s that stuff that got him elected.

Right now, half the country looks out its windows and sees a Mad Max movie, Steve M says. Well, maybe we all see a Mad Max movie. The difference is that liberals/progressives think we have everything we need to make it better, to make it more like the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life. We just need the will to do it. The Right thinks itself helpless without big guns to shoot the bad guys (everybody who isn’t Them) and big bombs to wipe out the scary foreign people. And the things progressives propose that would make things better make absolutely no sense to them.

And so we are at an impasse.