The Threat Set

During the Trump regime my cable news habit was out of control. Teevee news has a visceral impact on viewers, and I felt it all too often. The only MSNBC show I watch regularly now is The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell who I recently called the last sane person on cable news. Lawrence is a calm and cerebral host who’s there to feed your brain, not your gut.

I’ve noticed lately how many stories involve threats, mostly of violence. It’s particularly dangerous to be an election official, a school board member, or a federal judge right now. There are so many threats that it’s hard to discern credible ones. This is some serious shit.

One of my specialties as a pundit is handing out nicknames. I’m running the phrase the Threat Set up the flagpole to see who salutes it. Not really. I tend to throw nicknames against the wall and see which ones stick. I think this one will stick because it evokes the Jet Set. The Impeached Insult Comedian, with his private plane and past patronage of Studio 54, qualifies as a member of the Jet Set. Few of his supporters do.

Back to the matter at hand. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said this about the Threat Set when she testified before the Senate Rules Committee this week:

“Two weeks after the election, armed protesters gathered outside my home and chanted, Katie, come out and play. We`re watching you.

I never expected that holding this office would result in far right trolls threatening my children, threatening my husband`s employment at a children`s hospital or calling my office, saying I deserve to die and asking, what is she wearing today? So she`ll be easy to get.

But what concerns me is near constant harassment faced by the private servants who administer our elections. We`re seeing high turnover among election staff and I fear that many more will reach a breaking point and decide that this line of public service is no longer worth it.”

As a woman, Hobbs is subjected to gross forms of harassment. The “Katie come out to play” thing sounds like something out of a Steven King novel. It’s something that this guy might say:

Image by Michael F.

Federal judges handling Dipshit Insurrection cases are feeling the heat as well:

A district judge said on Friday that defendants in Jan. 6 cases who push the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen are inciting threats to judges presiding over insurrection cases.

D.C. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said that he and other judges involved in Jan. 6 trials “are getting all kinds of threats and hostile phone calls” from people who “buy in on this proposition … that somehow the election was fraudulent.”

I’m relieved to hear that Trumpers aren’t gathering outside his house chanting, “Reggie, Reggie, Reggie.”

On a more serious note, this has got to stop. Threats that used to be laughable must be taken seriously because of the current political climate.

MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance had this exchange with Lawrence on The Last Word last night:

VANCE: You know, the distinction between just the very small number of federals judges who were tragically killed in the last century and the attack this century on a judge`s family is that those stemmed primarily from people who were upset about their individual cases or family members` cases.

What`s so troubling about the era that we`re in right now in Judge Walton`s comments is this is about people with a political agenda.

And those are the sort of risks that judges face in countries where cartels have influence or in the Philippines or even in Afghanistan, where two women judges were killed earlier this year.

The risk — and I`m not saying, for instance, that Donald Trump is directly responsible, but it`s the rhetoric and the level of political divide in this country that can fuel troubled people towards attacks that`s so very risky and troubling.

O`DONNELL: Well, I would say that Donald Trump is responsible for any attack on any federal judge who`s handling any of these January 6th cases, as the judge was talking about the threats are pouring in against them.

I agree with Lawrence. The Kaiser of Chaos has fanned the flames of hatred and poured gasoline on the fire like a modern-day Nero.

He may not be legally culpable but he’s morally and politically responsible for the Threat Set acting out his sick and twisted fantasies. Former President* Pennywise is a coward. He incites violence but lacks the courage to participate. He leaves that to the Threat Set.

Repeat after me: Donald Trump is a pussy. He should grab himself.

The last word goes to John Prine and Iris DeMent:

2 thoughts on “The Threat Set

  1. Thanks for this piece. I was planning to write something similar. What I’m looking for now that people are coming on cable TV and talking about these threats are interviews with the law enforcement people who are in charge of tracking them down.

    What is happening in the tracking, arresting and prosecution of violent threats?
    I want to hear all the reasons and excuses.
    I want to know why they don’t follow up on certain threats.
    What are the criteria for following up on death threats?

    How do the organizations work with law enforcement to ensure prosecution?
    What are they told to do when there is no prosecution?

    Do people understand the difference between of a general threat vs a threat that is classified as a “true threat” as defined by the Elonis vs. United States?

    Do harsh penalties change how people act? Is the widespread publicity of the threat but no prosecution send a message that threats work and nothing will stop them? That people just need to “grow a thick skin” and it “comes with the territory” don’t let the trolls get to you?

    Would penalties for Trump and GOP operatives for threatening witnesses help change behavior?
    What role does the internet /social media play in the way people threaten others?
    Does the perceived anonymity people think they have reinforced when they are not caught?

    Do people know how hard it actually is to be anonymous on the internet unless you are really smart?

    Do people know that if law enforcement/the intelligence community wanted to know who someone is on the internet they could do so, but they don’t?
    What are the reasons that law enforcement gives for why don’t identify people?

    The right has turned the school boards’ request for help from the DOJ about the violent threats they are getting into an issue about disagreements on policy or speech.
    The media starts with the frame of disagreements but doesn’t change it when it goes beyond the protected speech.

    What can people who defend free speech do to make it clear that threatening speech is different?

  2. From today’s Electoral Vote news / commentary web site:

    Secretaries of state who certified that Joe Biden won in 2020 are getting hate mail and death threats. They know that Trump supporters can be armed, have no problem with violence, and so they are scared silly. In a voicemail, Arizona’s Katie Hobbs (D) got a message saying: “I am a hunter—and I think you should be hunted. You will never be safe in Arizona again.” Another message said: “Die you bi**h, die! Die you bi**h, die!” Hobbs said: “I take these threats very seriously. It’s absolutely getting worse.”

    She isn’t the only one who is worried. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) got a message that read: “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days… anything can happen to anyone.” Actually, Griswold doesn’t have a security detail and her small office budget doesn’t have a line-item for security. She asked Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) for protection. She got the state police to protect her for 2 weeks, then they stopped. She said: “When someone says they know where I live and I should be afraid for my life, I take that as a threat and I believe the state of Colorado should, too.”

    And then there is Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D). The threats against her have spiked and gotten very specific. She got 24-hour police protection, but when the protection stopped, the threats continued. Dozens of people showed up at her house last December, while she was inside with her husband and young child.

    Kathy Boockvar (D), who was Pennsylvania’s secretary of state until February, received protection after the election as threats against her ramped up. She said: “I didn’t feel comfortable walking the dog on the street” after messages were posted to Parler saying: “You crooked fu**ing bi**h. You’re done.”

    Have you noticed a pattern here? Death threats against Democratic women. But not all the threats are against Democrats and women. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) has been inundated with threats for not “finding” 12,000 new votes for Donald Trump. The threats have been directed at him, his wife, and his family. The FBI has been investigating, but no one has been arrested.

    Other election officials declined to talk to CNN about their situations, saying that they did not want to call more attention to themselves than they already have.

    Secretaries of state all over the country realize that they will be on the front lines in 2022 and 2024 as Trump supporters expect them to certify that Trump and his endorsees won everywhere. These races are attracting far more attention than in the past as a result.

    The Dept. of Justice has opened a task force to investigate the situation, but there are concerns that it is not doing enough. One thing it did do is give the secretaries an 800 number and website to report threats. FBI Director Christopher Wray also instructed FBI agents in all 56 field offices to work with state and local officials regarding the threats.

    Still, the threats keep coming and not only anonymously. Hobbs is running for governor (a safer job since governors get a better protection detail than secretaries of state). But her opponent, Trump-endorsed Kari Lake, has made “I think she [Hobbs] should be locked up” a key part of her campaign. Welcome to democracy in the era of Trump.

    Source —

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