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The MAGA road to prison, #2

May 8, 2023

While we wait to see what charges are brought against the ringleaders of Trump’s attempted coup, state and federal courts continue to try, convict, and sentence the MAGA rank and file for their related crimes. Looking at their defenses and excuses and sometimes lack thereof can make some interesting reading.

The defense attorney for the heads of the Proud Boys tried to lay the blame on their cult leader:

‘Be there, it’s going to be wild,’ the commander-in-chief said. And so they did. … Their commander-in-chief sold them a lie.

Most of us learn as children that we don’t escape responsibility by blaming someone else as instigator.  Alas, adults who join gangs and militias seem to need that lesson reinforced. The jury convicted them of serious felonies, including seditious conspiracy.

A Nashville man and his mother who participated in the January 6th mayhem also have been convicted of various charges. She is expressing little remorse:

This country was founded on revolution. [I’d] rather die as a 57-year-old woman than live under oppression.

There are quite a few MAGA adherents who seem to think that losing an election is oppression. A California man plotted to bomb the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento to avenge that loss. His attorney, prior to sentencing, made a more concrete excuse: his client was a victim of “excessive beer drinking.”

Well. Some of my sailing friends will sympathize. They have been there, abused by too much beer. The next day, feeling a bit pounded, they look askance at someone who reminds them that beer does not drink itself. Still, most of them never did anything worse under its influence than stepping into an open hatch or betting on an inside straight.

MadoffInHisCellA 40 year-old Texas man who participated in January 6th had been charged with only misdemeanors. Misdemeanors don’t follow you forever. All sorts of applications ask if you’ve ever committed a felony. Past misdemeanors no one much cares about. Misdemeanors are easy to handle: pay your fine, mend your ways, do your community service and at most a little jail time, keep to the straight and narrow under parole. And get on with your life. But a Proud Boy doesn’t take the easy way. He gets into a gunfight with deputies on the day he is due to surrender. Whatever excuse his lawyer makes now is not going to work.

Let’s end with a more hopeful example. A retired Pennsylvania firefighter was convicted for assaulting a police officer on January 6th. He is promising to get smarter. His attorney says he is working with someone who helps people out of cults:

During this process, Mr. Sanford was confronted with facts about the “stolen election” conspiracy theory among others and how psychological manipulation is used to indoctrinate the followers of a conspiracy

Most of the criminals above are dupes. They would have stayed out of trouble if they had a bit more social awareness, if they weren’t so influenced by right-wing media, if they had avoided gangs and militias, if they hadn’t succumbed to conspiracy bullshit. They were stupid and dishonest. They now are paying a steep price. Only the last one shows a glipse of awareness of where he went wrong.

Every cult attracts grifters also. A scheme with the catchy name of “We Build the Wall” was used by MAGA leaders to fleece the dupes. Two men who ran it were sentenced to a few years in federal prison for wire fraud. They committed that fraud with Steve Bannon, who would be welcoming them to their new home, except that he received a pardon by Trump.

Photo shows Bernie Madoff in his cell. If you think the folks named above are heroes or victims, get smarter. The Justice Department is asking a twenty-five year sentence for Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers. If the judge gives even half that, it still is a hard lesson.

I posted previously on this. Update: Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in federal prison. His ex-wife cheers.


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