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Amateur Hour in an Open Carry State

It seems we in Michigan have just narrowly averted a “civil war leading to societal collapse.”

The idiots who are now looking at life in prison had this cool idea. Dude, let’s kidnap the governor, haul her off to Wisconsin somewhere, and put her on trial for treason.  

We may never know how far these guys were prepared to go, or what crimes the governor is supposed to have committed — probably something about masks. What we do know is that they took it far enough to be swept up by the FBI, and their futures are now on hold indefinitely.

Our Attorney General, Dana Nessel, is pissed off. She found herself on The Rachel Maddow Show for the second time in a week, having just busted Jacob Wohl on a variety of fraud charges stemming from a heinous scheme to scare Black people out of voting by mail. She was already busy.

But this time she was there to tell us about the Wolverine Watchmen, one of the self-styled “militias” that attract the very best people to our open carry state. Nessel has no shortage of statutes she can indict on, and I’m guessing she’ll go for all of them.

The Watchmen are boys with toys. Like much of their subculture, they like to shoot things and pretend they’re real soldiers.

Some actually have military training, while others just play too much Call of Duty. Some have camo fatigues that clash with those Boogaloo-boy Hawaiian shirts. Some post videos where they practice speed-loading assault rifles. As a group, they give testosterone a bad name.

They hang out with like-minded souls on social media, where they bitch about the government and the crushing burden of being white in America.

They fantasize about civil insurrection, complete with live ammunition and civilian casualties. Their fantasies tend to follow well-worn movie cliches. A few dedicated freedom fighters launch a few well-timed “liberation” operations. This somehow awakens the previously complacent population to the tyranny of a government that denies their god-given right to share viruses freely. That population, now duly awakened, spontaneously rises up and does something — it’s not clear exactly what. But it’s loud.

And when it’s all over, everyone celebrates their new life in “a society that followed the US Bill of Rights and where they could be self-sufficient.”

These deft intellectual underpinnings aside, you have to wonder about the wisdom of sharing such fantasies on a public platform, even an encrypted one. Does it not occur to them that their few thousand “friends” are bound to include a smattering of feds? Do they not grasp that what they’re discussing is real crimes that carry real punishments?

I’m guessing a sort of herd mentality sets in, as it tends to do on social media — especially if drugs and hormones are involved. Talk gets looser. Guys get ideas. They start getting specific. They brag about weapons they might or might not own, or can maybe borrow from their uncle. One guy knows another guy whose cousin rigged explosives in Kandahar.

They talk about who they hate, who they’d like to “cap,” and how it would feel to actually do it. They know for fact that this is totally justifiable on constitutional grounds, and the many legal scholars in the group are quick to agree.

One thing leads to another. They have long nursed an unhealthy obsession with our governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who scolds them about social distancing, disses the president, and, as I’ve previously written, brings out the worst in their prolonged adolescence.

Next thing you know they’re planning her abduction. They surveil her summer house. They hold secret meetings in a Grand Rapids suburb, where they confiscate all cellphones. They pull up a carpet to reveal a trapdoor leading to the cellar, where they conduct lively discussions that run afoul of multiple state and federal conspiracy laws.

We know this, because every word is recorded, thanks to a robust law enforcement presence at most of these meetings.

Between the undercover guys and the confidential informants, the FBI could have run the entire operation themselves — if they’d been interested in kidnapping a governor. Instead, they busted these bozos well short of the target date, seizing a boatload of evidence that will have prosecutors rolling their eyes and trying hard not to laugh. And these guys won’t be hiring top-of-the-line defense lawyers, either.

Which is my way of saying we got lucky this time. These guys aren’t ISIS, Mossad, or even a B-list drug cartel. If they’d been a real terrorist cell, they wouldn’t just be taking cell phones at the door. They’d have real security with real accountability. No social media presence. No meeting in person. All information on a need-to-know basis. And the FBI would have no hint of their existence.

“Militia” is just a stupid word for white terrorist wannabes. These guys are amateurs. They aren’t recruiting suicide bombers. They aren’t executing informers. They aren’t insisting that new members kill someone before they’re accepted. They aren’t lusting for an afterlife in paradise.

One of these days, the real pros could show up, and it won’t be pretty. But these guys are just rebels without a clue. And now they get to sit out their lives, two or three to a cell, where they’ll fit right in with their peer group. 

As revolutionaries go, they’re mostly just revolting.

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