Weekend Wound-Up: Deep dive version

Before you roll your eyes and bounce, I won't be the deep diver. Not that I can't do it, I'm just prone to being distracted by undulating aquatic plant life and colorful fish (Yes, that's the plural of fish, regardless of what Merriam Webster or the Associated Press say. Jesus fed them loaves and fish. And one guy who normally fishes for his dinner was greatly relieved he could skip it that day).

Our deep divers in this diary are professionals, and incredibly intelligent and resourceful ones. We'll start off with our good friends working their respective beats at the NC Justice Center:

The chair of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday said she has requested that CEOs of three gun manufacturing companies appear before Congress to testify at a hearing later this month on gun violence. Chair Carolyn B. Maloney of New York said she has asked for appearances by Marty Daniel of Daniel Defense, LLC in Georgia, Mark P. Smith of Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. in Massachusetts, and Christopher Killoy of Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. in Connecticut.

Maloney requested that all three CEOs respond by Friday if they will testify on the hearing set for July 20. That hearing will “examine the role of the firearms industry in the gun violence epidemic, including with respect to the sale and marketing of assault weapons and the broad civil immunity that has been granted to manufacturers.”

“The information you provided has heightened the Committee’s concern that your company is continuing to profit from the sale and marketing of weapons of war to civilians despite the harm these weapons cause, is failing to track instances or patterns where your products are used in crimes, and is failing to take other reasonable precautions to limit injuries and deaths caused by your firearms,” Maloney wrote to the CEOs.

But before that hearing takes place, the Jan 6 Committee will reconvene next week to dig deeper into Trump's failed coup. They will be looking deeper into the organizations that funded and prodded the insurrectionists, so let's get some info on some of these groups ahead of time, so we won't be scratching our heads:

Six months before the 2020 election, Tomi Collins, a Christian right organizer from North Dakota, issued a demand on Twitter for the execution of political enemies in the federal government bureaucracy — citing an array of imagined offenses, including the QAnon hoax that progressive elites are harvesting children’s blood. “#WeThe people demand incitements [sic] for #SpyGate #PizzaGate #UraniumOne #Adrenochrome,” she wrote. “#DeepState will be exposed and hung for treason. Even if we have to do it ourselves! #CoordinationMatters.”

Collins closed her digital call to arms with two more hashtags: #PatriotsMobilize and #1LoudVoice.

Collins serves as executive director of a little-known Christian right outfit called America Restored. Collins has described America Restored, which is organized as a private corporation, as a vehicle for providing strategic consulting and funding to grassroots organizers.

As early as January 2018, less than a year into the Trump administration, Collins was warning followers on Facebook Live about “voter machine fraud,” and foreign election interference, while specifically referencing Dominion Voting Systems. Her description of a plan “to cheat” in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections uncannily anticipated public claims by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell that have prompted a defamation lawsuit against the two attorneys who litigated President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Some reading this may be familiar with the author of this piece, but you should all become familiar with Jordan Green. He and Brian Clarey left Greensboro's Yes Weekly and started their own publication in Winston-Salem, Triad City Beat. Jordan has been following right-wing extremists for several years, and is now writing for Raw Story. Talk about your deep dives, he goes so deep he has to come back up in stages, so he won't get the bends. Here's more:

America Restored’s mission statement explicitly references Seven Mountains dominionism, a far-right Christian ideology that emerged in the mid-1970s. It holds that Christians are called on by God to dominate all realms of civil society, including government.

It is unclear whether Collins and Blazek worked together on the effort to mobilize Trump supporters for the rallies, and neither woman responded to repeated requests for interviews. But language used by the two women in interviews to promote their projects and on websites for their respective organizations — including the #1LoudVoice hashtag and Seven Mountains dominionism ideology — bear striking similarities.

The #1LoudVoice hashtag was used in Collins’ social media beginning in May 2020 and has also been prominently displayed on the America Restored website. Meanwhile, a tab on the website ThePatriotParty.rocks, which prom. otes events organized by Blazek, includes the heading “Our Mission: #1LoudVoice.” The mission statement includes a “call to action,” declaring it is “time to rise up in unity, go into the harvest and take our country back.” The statement continues: “We are assembling to organizing and mobilizing [sic] existing Patriots groups [sic] in all major areas of influence by a national digital communication platform and network influencing all seven (7) spheres of influence: Education, Family, Faith, Business, Government, Entertainment, Media.”

The page includes a link to a separate site listing “coalition members,” including Virginia Freedom Keepers and Latinos for Trump, two of the groups that hosted a MAGA Freedom Rally one block from the US Capitol on Jan. 6; and 1st Amendment Praetorian, a security group associated with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn that provided personal security details for speakers at several rallies and assisted attorney Sidney Powell with research on purported election fraud.

Connecting the dots with these people is often difficult, because paranoia rules their existence. They use obscure Internet platforms like Parlor and Gab, publish podcasts on nebulous domains, and piggy back to chat rooms on video game sites. But thanks to brilliant researchers like Megan Squires, they can't hide for very long:

John Christopher Zander, 55, a software salesman residing in the Baltimore suburbs, has inhabited The Z Man persona since at least 2013, based on a Hatewatch review of public records and leaked documents containing biographical data that match Zander with the Z Man persona.

Since 2013, The Z Man has published an independent but well-trafficked site called The Z Blog, which he updates with new posts about five times a week. From July 2017, he expanded his activities into a weekly, hour-long podcast called “The Z Blog Power Hour.” The Z Man depicts white men as the victims of a genocidal conspiracy, and advocates a separatist white-only country, or ethnostate, in North America.

The Z Man voices these themes across so many posts and podcasts that the overall effect becomes repetitious. In a January 2018 post, he wrote: “The war on whiteness is happening at every point on the social structure and in every town in the country. ... Therefore, there is no running away from the slow-moving white genocide being perpetrated on us by our rulers,” referring to a common white supremacist conspiracy theory. Those “rulers,” Z Man asserted, operated under the sway of a “coalition of blacks, Hispanics, miscellaneous foreigners, Jews and white feminists,” and they aimed to “replace whites in America via the miracle of open borders.”

Hatewatch first linked Zander with The Z Man pseudonym through information included in the data breach at extremist-friendly domain registrar and web host Epik. From there, Hatewatch confirmed that the details revealed through the data breach matched Zander by, among other things, reviewing public records and talking to sources who know him.

People like Megan make it seem easy, but that is a huge amount of work. Which is why you should support the Southern Poverty Law Center as much as you can, so they can keep doing this critical research.



They are courageous.

The people they research are completely unhinged, dangerous as hell. I contemplated not even writing this, because it increases their exposure. But the risks they take would be pointless if nobody learns from what they do.

It's a conundrum.