A historic day on Thursday, May 30, 2024 as the first former President in US history became a convicted felon. Found guilty on all 34 counts, Donald Trump finally faces the music for the first of his election-related criminal trials. Already the Trump trial disinformation machine is spinning up on the right, making wild claims about a politicized process.

The investigation into Trump’s fraudulent payments to Stormy Daniels actually began with Michael Cohen on July 18, 2017, when his bank First Republic Bank tipped off the FBI to some suspicious activity from the Trump’s fixer’s accounts. That investigation led to a 3-year sentence for Cohen for the same exact crime. Way back in 2018, we knew that “Co-conspirator 1” was Donald Trump — and now he has been convicted of that crime.

The federal case inspired an investigation into Cohen’s finances by the state of New York, where both he and the business were located. Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg inherited the case from former prosecutor Cy Vance, who began investigating Trump way back in 2018 after Cohen’s guilty plea, when Cohen admitted in court to making the hush money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during Trump’s 2016 campaign. Vance ultimately declined to make a decision on the case before leaving office in 2021, leaving it open for his successor Alvin Bragg.

The Trump investigation: Multiple convictions

Vance did end up charging former Trump Organization CFO Alan Weisselberg with tax fraud, conspiracy, grand larceny, and falsifying business records. He pled guilty in 2022 and testified against the Trump Org, resulting in a conviction of criminal tax fraud against the company and a fine of $1.6 million.

Vance also worked with the Southern District of New York to prosecute the Michael Cohen case and 3-year sentence.

From hush money to election corruption

When new DA Bragg inherited the case that later came to be known as the “hush money” case in 2021, he was reportedly reluctant to make charges, causing 2 longtime prosecutors to leave. He did however end up charging Donald Trump in April 2023, on 34 counts of felony falsification of business records.

Bragg, a graduate of Harvard Law School, focused on fraud and money laundering cases during his tenure as a prosecutor at the Southern District of New York. He also led the team at the NY Attorney General’s office that secured a $2 million judgment and the dissolution of the Trump Foundation in 2019 for misuse of Trump’s charitable foundation. After looking at the facts of the hush money case, he ultimately decided that it was much bigger than simply paying off a porn star: “it’s about conspiring to corrupt a presidential election.”

Continue reading Trump Trial Disinformation: How the right is trying to discredit the felony conviction
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In this post, we dive deep into the heart of American political tradition by presenting a complete collection of first presidential inaugural address speeches that have shaped the United States from its inception to the present day. Each speech, a time capsule of its era, is summarized up front (with a link to the full text) to highlight the core messages, visions, and promises made by the presidents at the dawn of their administrations during their first (or singular) inaugural address.

Accompanying these summaries, we’ve included visual opportunities to get a sense of the inauguration speeches “at a glance,” via word clouds and histograms. These are generated from the text of the speeches themselves, to offer a uniquely infovisual perspective on the recurring themes, values, and priorities that resonate through America’s history.

One of the earliest Presidential inaugural speeches, as imagined by Midjourney

Understanding our history is not just about recounting events; it’s about connecting with the voices that have guided the nation’s trajectory at each pivotal moment. These speeches are more than formalities; they are declarations of intent, reflections of the societal context, and blueprints for the future, delivered at the crossroads of past achievements and future aspirations.

By exploring these speeches, we not only gain insight into the leadership styles and political climates of each period but also engage with the evolving identity of America itself. We can compare the use of language by different presidents in a way that reflects both shifting trends in culture and geopolitics as well as the character and vision of the leaders themselves.

This collection serves as a vital resource for anyone looking to grasp the essence of American political evolution and the enduring principles that continue to inform its path forward.

George Washington inaugural address (1789)

Washington speech summary

George Washington’s inaugural speech, delivered in New York City on April 30, 1789, reflects his reluctance and humility in accepting the presidency. He expresses deep gratitude for the trust placed in him by his fellow citizens and acknowledges his own perceived inadequacies for the monumental task ahead.

Continue reading Presidential Inaugural Address Mega List
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Fundamentalism starves the mind. It reduces and narrows a universe of dazzlingly fascinating complexity available for infinite exploration — and deprives millions of people throughout the ages of the limitless gifts of curiosity.

The faux finality of fundamentalism is a kind of death wish — a closing off of pathways to possibility that are lost to those human minds forever. It’s a closing of the doors of perception and a welding shut of the very openings that give life its deepest meaning.

It is tragic — a truly heartbreaking process of grooming and indoctrination into a poisonous worldview; the trapping of untold minds in airless, sunless rooms of inert stagnation for an eternity. What’s worse — those claustrophobic minds aim to drag others in with them — perhaps to ease the unbearable loneliness of being surrounded only by similitude.

They are threatened by the appearance of others outside the totalist system that entraps them — and cannot countenance the evidence of roiling change that everywhere acts as a foil to their mass-induced delusions of finality. It gnaws at the edges of the certainty that functions to prop them up against a miraculous yet sometimes terrifying world of ultimate unknowability.

Continue reading Fundamentalism starves the mind
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Project 2025 mind map of entities

Project 2025, led by Paul Dans and key conservative figures within The Heritage Foundation, sets forth an ambitious conservative vision aimed at fundamentally transforming the role of the federal government. Leonard Leo, a prominent conservative known for his influence on the U.S. Supreme Court‘s composition, is among the project’s leading fundraisers.

The initiative seeks to undo over a century of progressive reforms, tracing back to the establishment of a federal administrative framework by Woodrow Wilson, through the New Deal by Roosevelt, to Johnson’s Great Society. It proposes a significant reduction in the federal workforce, which stands at about 2.25 million people.

Essential measures include reducing funding for, or even abolishing, key agencies such as the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Departments of Education and Commerce. Additionally, Project 2025 intends to bring semi-independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission under closer presidential control.

At its heart, Project 2025 aims to secure a durable conservative dominance within the federal government, aligning it closely with the principles of the MAGA movement and ensuring it operates under the direct oversight of the White House. The project is inspired by the “unitary executive theory” of the Constitution, which argues for sweeping presidential authority over the federal administrative apparatus — in direct contradiction with the delicate system of checks and balances architected by the Founders.

The Project 2025 Playbook

To realize their extremist, authoritarian goal, Dans is actively recruiting what he terms “conservative warriors” from legal and government networks, including bar associations and offices of state attorneys general. The aim is to embed these individuals in key legal roles throughout the government, thereby embedding the conservative vision deeply within the federal bureaucracy to shape policy and governance for the foreseeable future.

Continue reading Project 2025: The GOP’s plan for taking power
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Peter Navarro reports to prison

Former Trump advisor Peter Navarro — who wrote a book claiming credit for the idea to try and overthrow the 2020 election and bragged about it as the “Green Bay Sweep” to MSNBC’s Ari Melber — reported to prison today after the Supreme Court ruled he cannot get out of answering to a Congressional subpoena. Peter Navarro prison time is set to be 4 months for an independent jury’s conviction for Contempt of Congress.

The sentencing judge refuted Navarro’s allegations that he was the victim of a political prosecition: “you aren’t,” Mehta said. “You have received every process you are due.”

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SOTU 2024 Joe Biden Presidential address

Strong economic messages of the Keynesian buttressing of the middle class that is Bidenomics were everywhere in evidence at last night’s State of the Union address, Biden’s third since taking office in 2021. In SOTU 2024 he spoke about stabbing trickle-down economics in its gasping heart as a repeated failure to the American people. Instead of giving another $2 trillion tax cuts to billionaires, Biden wants to give back to the people who he says built America: the middle class.

The President delivered strong, sweeping language and vision reminiscent of LBJ’s Great Society and FDR‘s New Deal. He also delivered a heartwarming sense of unity and appeal to put down our bickering and get things done for the American people.

“We all come from somewhere — but we’re all Americans.”

This while lambasting the Republicans for scuttling the deal over the popular bipartisan immigration bill thanks to 11th hour interference from TFG (“my predecessor” as JRB called him). “This bill would save lives!” He is really effective at calling out the GOP‘s hypocrisy on border security with this delivery.

“We can fight about the border or we can fix the border. Send me a bill!”

He is taking full advantage of being the incumbent candidate here. He has the power and the track record to do all these things he is promising, and he’s telling the exact truth about the Republican obstructionism preventing the American people from having their government work for them.

SOTU 2024 Joe Biden fiery speech with Kamala Harris and Mike Johnson in the background behind him

I love that he calls out Trump in this speech, without naming names — almost a kind of Voldemort effect. He who must not be named — because giving him the dignity even of a name is more than he deserves.

He says that Trump and his cabal of anti-democratic political operatives have ancient ideas (hate, revenge, reactionary, etc.) — and that you can’t lead America with ancient ideas. In America, we look towards the future — relentlessly. Americans wants a president who will protect their rights — not take them away.

“I see a future… for all Americans!” he ends with, in a segment reminiscent of the great Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, with its clear vision of power and authority flowing from what is morally right and just, instead of what is corrupt and cronyish. It gave me hope for the future — that Americans will make the right choice, as we seem to have done under pressure, throughout our history. 🀞🏽

Continue reading Biden SOTU 2024: Success stories and big policy ideas
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Wealth Cult -- rich men behaving badly, by Midjourney

A network of exceedingly wealthy individuals and organizations have channeled their vast fortunes into influencing American politics, policy, and public opinion — they’ve formed a wealth cult. And they’ve leveraged that cult and its considerable fortune to influence and in many ways dramatically transform American politics.

The term “dark money” refers to political spending meant to influence the decision-making and critical thinking of the public and lawmakers where the source of the money is not disclosed. This lack of transparency makes it challenging to trace the influence back to its origins, hence the term “dark.”

And, it is dark indeed.

Wealth cult anchors the trench coat

The Wealth Cult is one of 3 primary groups or clusters supporting the right-wing and generally, the Republican Party. It anchors the trench coat by funding the 2 cults above it: the Christian Cult, and the White Cult.

Its story is stealthy and significant.

A bunch of billionaires toast themselves to themselves, by Midjourney

The wealth cult has funded disinformation campaigns, the spread of conspiracy theories, created fake social movements through astroturfing, enabled violent extremists to attack their country’s capitol, cruelly deprived vulnerable people (especially immigrants, poor people, and women) of the kind of state aid granted generously throughout the developed world, bribed regulators, rigged elections, crashed economies, and on and on in service of their extremist free market ideology beliefs.

They believe in “makers and takers,” or Mudsill Theory, as it was once called by pedophile and racist Senator and slavery enthusiast James Henry Hammond. Some people were born to serve others, they say. Hierarchies are natural, they claim. Wealthy men should make all the decisions — because that’s what’s best for everyone, they say in paternalistic tones.

I don’t buy it. I believe all men are created equal. So did a certain Founder of our country.

Continue reading Wealth Cult: The oligarchs influencing American politics from the shadows
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The GOP is 3 cults in a trench coat

One of two major parties in our American first-past-the-post voting system of dual-party reality, the Republican Party, has evolved (or devolved…) into a full-throated authoritarian movement seeking to overthrow our democracy, The Constitution, and the rule of law in order to establish a fascist regime in the United States. It’s been a not-so-secret fever dream on the right for decades and even centuries — and the old guard reflexively senses their time is coming to an end.

The demographic changes underway in America are inexorable — by the 2024 election cycle 8 million new young voters who have turned 18 since the 2022 mid-terms, and 5 million seniors aged 65 and up will have died. The first group will vote overwhelmingly Democratic, while the second group represents the ever-dwindling base of the Republican Party. Although historically older voters have participated at much higher rates than the youth voting percentage, the rate of increase for the 18-24 group is much higher.

Faced with these realities and the census projection of a majority minority population in the United States by the year 2045, the Republican right-wing is struggling to keep piecing together a voting base that can achieve victories in electoral politics. The GOP is now 3 cults in a trenchcoat, having been hollowed out and twisted to the point of trying desperately to hold increasingly extreme factions together for another election cycle in which they can try to capture power forever through gerrymandering and other anti-democratic election engineering — or at least long enough to erase the evidence of their criminal behavior during the Trump years culminating in a coup attempt on January 6, 2021.

The 3 Republican cult factions

  1. The Wealth Cult — A business lobby led by Charles Koch and a collection of dark money groups including Leonard Leo‘s Federalist Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), this group emerged out of the 1970s business backlash to the civil rights movement — while piggybacking on the still-simmering resentments of the anti-New Deal and pro-fascist America Firsters of the 1930s and the searing anti-Communism of the 1950s McCarthyism era turned, improbably, Russophilia in modern days.
  2. The Christian Nationalist Cult — Started by Jerry Falwell Sr. with the Moral Majority circa 1979, the politicized Evangelical movement is inexplicably led today by “sudden believers” Mike Pence, Mike Flynn, and others under the umbrella of the Council for National Policy (CNP), the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), and other religious organizations involved in politics in large part as a backlash to the Broad v. Board of Education ruling and the federal mandate to end school segregation. Masquerading as so-called “originalists,” this coalition are rather radical reactionaries participating in a long-running backlash against civil rights and the women’s rights movements of the 1960s, including the Roe v. Wade ruling by the Supreme Court that legalized abortion — overturned in 2022 based on efforts by this group.
  3. The White Nationalist Cult — With roots in the 1980s white power movement stretching all the way back to the Civil War and the Lost Cause mythology that followed and long outlasted Reconstruction, today the white identity movement is led by Steve Bannon and Roger Stone, with a parallel intertwined branch led by Peter Thiel and the Dark Enlightenment neo-Reactionaries of Silicon Valley. This group includes dominant private militia groups involved in the January 6 insurrection including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (both of whose leaders have been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the coup attempt — with the Oath Keepers’ leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for his actions).

The Wealth Cult

Led by Charles Koch et al, the mostly aging, Boomer crowd who controls much of the US government either directly or indirectly as a donor or operative is starting to panic for one reason or another: the fear of death looming, existential worries about thwarted or unmet ambition, economic turn of the wheel starting to leave their fortunes in decline (with inflation as a common boogie man since the Wall Street Putsch of the 1930s). Much of this crowd inherited the free market ideological zeal of the Austrian School of economics (later, trickle down economics) from their fathers along with their trust fund fortunes that some have squandered (Trump), tread water with (Coors, Scaife), or grown (Koch, DeVos).

The Wealth Cult, by Midjourney
Continue reading The GOP is 3 Cults in a Trenchcoat
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ParadoxBot is an adorable chatbot who will cheerfully inform you about the Dark Arts

Sure, you could use the site search. Or, you could have a bot — try having a conversation with my blog via the following AI chatbot, ParadoxBot.

Ask it about conspiracy theories, or narcissism, or cults, or authoritarianism, or fascism, or disinformation — to name a few. You can also ask it about things like dark money, economics, history, and many topics at the intersection of political psychology.

It doesn’t index what’s on Foundations (yet) but it has ingested this site and you can essentially chat with the site itself via the ChatGPT-like interface below. Enjoy! And if you love it or hate it, find me on BlueSky (as @doctorparadox) or Mastodon and let me know your thoughts:

Tips for using ParadoxBot

  • Follow general good practice regarding prompt engineering.
  • If you don’t get an answer right away, try rephrasing your question. Even omitting or adding one word sometimes produces good results.
  • Try broad broad and specific types of queries.
  • Dig deeper into any areas the bot turns up that sound interesting.
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Donald Trump pathocracy, by Midjourney

Pathocracy is a relatively lesser-known concept in political science and psychology, which refers to a system of government in which individuals with personality disorders, particularly those who exhibit psychopathic, narcissistic, and similar traits (i.e. the “evil of Cluster B“), hold significant power. This term was first introduced by Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski in his work “Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes.”

The crux of pathocracy lies in the rule by a small pathological minority, which imposes a regime that is damaging to the majority of non-pathological people. The key characteristics of pathocratic leadership include a lack of empathy, a disregard for the rule of law, manipulation, authoritarianism, and often, brutal repression.

Origins and development of the concept of pathocracy

Pathocracy emerges from Łobaczewski’s study of totalitarian regimes, particularly those of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler and Communism in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. Born in Poland in 1921, he witnessed the upheaval and transformation of his own country during the horrors of World War II and subsequent Communist occupation.

He suffered greatly to arrive at the insights in his work — arrested and tortured by the Polish authorities under Communist rule, he was unable to publish his magnum opus, the book Political Ponerology, until he escaped to the United States during the 1980s. Łobaczewski spent the rest of his life and career trying to unpack what had happened to him, his community, and his nation — such brutality over such a shockingly short span of time.

Łobaczewski posits that these authoritarian and fascist regimes were not merely politically oppressive, but were also psychologically abnormal. He studied the characteristics of these leaders and their closest supporters, identifying patterns that aligned with known personality disorders. His work also identified a much higher percentage of personality disordered individuals than is still commonly understood, finding that about 7% of the general population could be categorized as severely lacking in empathy and possessing the tendencies — latent or overt — leading to the rise of pathocracy in society.

Characteristics of pathocratic leadership

  • Psychopathy: Leaders in a pathocracy often display traits synonymous with psychopathy, including a lack of empathy, remorse, and shallow emotions.
  • Narcissism: Excessive self-love and a strong sense of entitlement often drive pathocratic rulers.
  • Manipulation: These leaders are adept at manipulation, using deceit and coercion to maintain their power. They also often exhibit other traits and behaviors of emotional predators.
  • Paranoia: A heightened sense of persecution or conspiracy is common, leading to oppressive and authoritarian measures.
  • Corruption: Moral depravity, ethical degeneration, and widespread corruption are endemic in a pathocracy, as pathological leaders tend to surround themselves with similarly affected individuals who feel no shame about performing unethical and/or illegal actions either in secret, or in broad daylight with little fear of retaliation.
Continue reading Pathocracy Definition: Are we in one?
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A cult leader who is definitely a narcissist, sitting in a chair glowering

We’ve been obsessed in our household with documentaries about the Nxivm cult — and next with Scientology. The heads of both of those organizations are quite clearly pathological and often malignant narcissists, with grandiose and delusional ideas and an addiction to other people’s attention. Separately, I’ve studied narcissism quite a bit and feel, at least anecdotally, that all the cult leaders I’ve read about or known of have been led by these types of people, who are notoriously lacking in empathy, self-centered, entitled, and have an insatiable lust for power and control. It started me to wonder: are all cult leaders narcissists?

While certainly not all — or even any — cult leaders are clinically diagnosed narcissists, many pretty obviously exhibit narcissistic traits. Narcissism, particularly in its more extreme forms (including narcissistic personality disorder or NPD), is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. These traits can be paradoxically and counterintuitively conducive to the development of a cult-like following.

Cult leaders often exhibit the following narcissistic characteristics:

  1. Grandiosity: They may have an inflated sense of their own importance, believing themselves to be special or uniquely gifted, which can attract followers seeking answers, guidance, or a sense of certainty.
  2. Need for Admiration: Cult leaders often seek excessive admiration and validation from their followers, which reinforces their self-perceived superiority and authority and reifies their over-idealized self-image.
  3. Manipulation and Exploitation: They may manipulate or exploit followers, viewing them as tools to achieve their own goals, rather than as individuals with their own rights and needs. Employing love bombing and other psychological influence techniques, they can abuse, steamroll over and/or capture decades or entire lifetimes of people under their sway.
  4. Lack of Empathy: Cult leaders may show a lack of empathy, being indifferent to the needs and feelings of their followers, or callously exploiting their vulnerabilities. They are primarily concerned with gratifying their own needs and desires, and rarely recognize the needs of others as valid or worthy of attention.
  5. Charisma: Like the exceedingly self-confident narcissist, many cult leaders are charismatic, which aids in attracting and maintaining a devoted following. They turn on the charm when they feel it might get them something they want, but just as easily withhold it when they wish to devalue you for some other strategic purpose.
Continue reading Are all cult leaders narcissists?
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republican vs. democrat cage match boxing ring

Buckle up, we’re in for a wild ride. Many of the serious scholars of political history and authoritarian regimes are sounding the alarm bells that, although it is a very very good thing that we got the Trump crime family out of the Oval Office, it is still a very very bad thing for America to have so rapidly tilted towards authoritarianism. How did we get here?! How has hyper partisanship escalated to the point of an attempted coup by 126 sitting Republican House Representatives? How has political polarization gotten this bad?

These are some of the resources that have helped me continue grappling with that question, and with the rapidly shifting landscape of information warfare. How can we understand this era of polarization, this age of tribalism? This outline is a work in progress, and I’m planning to keep adding to this list as the tape keeps rolling.

Right-Wing Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism is both a personality type and a form of government — it operates at both the interpersonal and the societal level. The words authoritarian and fascist are often used interchangeably, but fascism is a more specific type of authoritarianism, and far more historically recent.

America has had flavors of authoritarianism since its founding, and when fascism came along the right-wing authoritarians ate it up — and deeply wanted the United States to be a part of it. Only after they became social pariahs did they change position to support American involvement in World War II — and some persisted even after the attack of Pearl Harbor.

Scholars of authoritarianism

  • Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Bob Altemeyer — The Authoritarians
  • Derrida — the logic of the unconscious; performativity in the act of lying
  • ketman — Ketman is the psychological concept of concealing one’s true aims, akin to doublethink in Orwell’s 1984, that served as a central theme to Polish dissident CzesΕ‚aw MiΕ‚osz‘s book The Captive Mind about intellectual life under totalitarianism during the Communist post-WWII occupation.
  • Erich Fromm — coined the term “malignant narcissism” to describe the psychological character of the Nazis. He also wrote extensively about the mindset of the authoritarian follower in his seminal work, Escape from Freedom.
  • Eric Hoffer — his book The True Believers explores the mind of the authoritarian follower, and the appeal of losing oneself in a totalist movement
  • Fascism — elevation of the id as the source of truth; enthusiasm for political violence
  • Tyrants and dictators
  • John Dean — 3 types of authoritarian personality:
    • social dominators
    • authoritarian followers
    • double highs — social dominators who can “switch” to become followers in certain circumstances
  • Loyalty; hero worship
    • Freud = deeply distrustful of hero worship and worried that it indulged people’s needs for vertical authority. He found the archetype of the authoritarian primal father very troubling.
  • Ayn Rand
    • The Fountainhead (1943)
    • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
    • Objectivism ideology
  • Greatness Thinking; heroic individualism
  • Nietszche — will to power; the Uberman
  • Richard Hofstadter — The Paranoid Style
  • George Lakoff — moral framing; strict father morality
  • Neil Postman — Entertaining Ourselves to Death
  • Anti-Intellectualism
  • Can be disguised as hyper-rationalism (Communism)
  • More authoritarianism books
Continue reading Hyper Partisanship: How to understand American politics today
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The special grand jury in Georgia that investigated efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results in favor of loser Donald Trump has recommended indictments against 39 individuals, a number significantly higher than the 19 people ultimately charged by prosecutors. Among those recommended for indictment in the Georgia RICO case but who were not charged were South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, and former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.

The report suggests that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis exercised discretion in streamlining the case, possibly due to factors like immunity deals, federal protections, or insufficient evidence. The grand jury accused the individuals of various offenses, including racketeering, conspiracy to defraud the state, false statements, perjury, and criminal solicitation to commit election fraud.

39 Georgia co-conspirators recommended for indictment

Rudy Giuliani with a hair dye problem
  1. Rudy GiulianiRudy Giuliani is an American attorney and politician, best known for serving as the Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001. He gained national prominence for his leadership during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Later, he became a personal lawyer to Donald Trump and was involved in various legal challenges related to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.
  2. John EastmanJohn Eastman is a constitutional law scholar and attorney. He gained attention for advising former President Donald Trump on legal matters, particularly concerning the 2020 election. Eastman has been criticized for promoting theories that questioned the election’s integrity.
  3. Kenneth Chesebro — Kenneth Chesebro is a less-publicized figure, primarily known as a Harvard Law School lecturer. He specializes in legal writing and research, but has not been prominently involved in mainstream political or legal events.
  4. Donald TrumpBusinessman and television personality. His presidency was marked by a polarized political climate, economic highs and lows, and two impeachments. He remains a highly influential figure in American politics.
  5. Cleta MitchellCleta Mitchell is an American lawyer specializing in election law and campaign finance. She gained attention for representing Donald Trump in matters related to the 2020 presidential election and has been a vocal critic of its outcome.
  6. Jenna Ellis — Jenna Ellis is an American attorney and author. She served as a legal advisor to Donald Trump during his presidency and was involved in legal challenges concerning the 2020 election. Ellis is known for her conservative viewpoints.
  7. Mark Meadows — Mark Meadows is an American politician who served as the White House Chief of Staff under Donald Trump. Prior to that, he was a U.S. Representative from North Carolina. Meadows is a founding member of the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives.
  8. David Shafer — David Shafer is a Republican politician from Georgia, serving as the Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party. He has been involved in state politics for years and was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump during the 2020 election.
  9. Ray Smith III — Ray Smith is a Georgia-based attorney who gained attention for representing the Trump campaign in legal matters related to the 2020 election in Georgia. He specializes in civil litigation and business law. He is accused of making false claims of election fraud at legislative hearings in December 2020.
  10. Lin Wood — Lin Wood is an American attorney known for high-profile defamation cases. He became a controversial figure for his involvement in legal challenges related to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election and his promotion of conspiracy theories.
  11. Lindsey Graham — Lindsey Graham is a U.S. Senator from South Carolina, serving since 2003. A member of the Republican Party, Graham is known for his conservative stance on issues like national security and his close relationship with Donald Trump.
  12. Sidney PowellSidney Powell is an American attorney and author. She gained national attention for her involvement in legal challenges related to the 2020 presidential election, promoting theories that have been widely discredited.
  13. Robert Cheeley — Robert Cheeley is a Georgia-based attorney specializing in personal injury law. He gained attention for his association with Lin Wood in various legal matters but is not a mainstream political figure. He is accused of making false claims of election fraud at legislative hearings in December 2020.
  14. Mike FlynnMichael Flynn is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General who briefly served as National Security Advisor under Donald Trump. He was convicted of lying to the FBI but was later pardoned by Trump.
  15. William Ligon — William Ligon is a Republican politician who serves as a State Senator in Georgia. He gained attention for his efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 presidential election in Georgia.
  16. David Perdue — David Perdue is an American businessman and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from Georgia from 2015 to 2021. A member of the Republican Party, Perdue was a close ally of former President Donald Trump. He lost his re-election bid in the 2021 Georgia runoff to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
  17. Kelly Loeffler — Kelly Loeffler is an American businesswoman and politician who served as a U.S. Senator from Georgia. Appointed in 2019, she lost her seat to Democrat Raphael Warnock in the 2021 Georgia runoff. Loeffler is co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, a WNBA team.
  18. Cathy Latham — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  19. Misty Hampton — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  20. Scott Hall — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  21. Boris Epshteyn — Boris Epshteyn is a Russian-American political strategist and commentator. He served as a special assistant to President Donald Trump and has been a vocal supporter of Trump’s policies.
  22. Jeffrey Clark — Jeff Clark is an American attorney who served as the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division under the Trump administration. He gained attention for his role in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.
  23. Kurt Hilbert — Kurt Hilbert is an American attorney based in Georgia. He gained attention for his involvement in legal challenges related to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, particularly in Georgia.
  24. Stephen Lee — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  25. Trevian Kutti — Trevian Kutti is a public relations consultant who has worked with high-profile clients, including politicians and celebrities. She is not a mainstream political figure but has some influence in the PR world.
  26. Harrison Floyd — Harrison Floyd is a military veteran and political activist. He has been involved in conservative political campaigns and organizations but is not a mainstream political figure.
  27. Alex Kaufman — Alex Kaufman is an American attorney based in Georgia. He specializes in election law and has been involved in various legal matters related to elections, although he is not a widely recognized public figure.
  28. Joseph Brannan — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  29. Vikki Consiglio — Vikki Consiglio is a Georgia-based political activist and member of the Republican Party. She has been involved in local politics and grassroots organizing but is not a mainstream political figure.
  30. Carolyn Fisher — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  31. Burt Jones — Burt Jones is an American businessman and politician serving as a Republican State Senator in Georgia. He has been in office since 2013 and is known for his conservative stances on issues like healthcare and education. Jones was a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and has been involved in efforts to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia.
  32. Gloria Godwin — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  33. Mark Hennessy — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  34. Mark Amick — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  35. John Downey — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  36. Brad Carver — Brad Carver is an American attorney and political strategist based in Georgia. He is a partner at Hall Booth Smith, P.C., and specializes in governmental affairs. Carver has been involved in Republican politics and has served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
  37. Shawn Still — A previously lesser known figure in Georgia politics.
  38. C. B. Yadav — C. B. Yadav is a businessman and community leader based in Georgia. While not a mainstream political figure, Yadav has been involved in local community initiatives and has received recognition for his philanthropic efforts.
  39. Jacki Pick — Jacki Pick is an American attorney and conservative commentator. She has appeared on various media platforms to discuss legal and political issues. Pick is known for her conservative viewpoints and has been a guest speaker at several conservative events.

What is RICO?

Georgia RICO brings racketeering to the fore, by Midjourney

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a U.S. federal law enacted in 1970, designed to combat organized crime. Initially aimed at dismantling the Mafia, RICO has evolved to address a broad range of illegal activities carried out by enterprises, which can include businesses, gangs, and even political organizations. The law targets patterns of racketeering, which may involve activities like money laundering, drug trafficking, and fraud.

In the legal profession, RICO cases are approached with meticulous care due to their complexity. Prosecutors must prove four key elements: the existence of an “enterprise,” a pattern of racketeering activity, a connection between the enterprise and the criminal conduct, and the defendant’s participation in the enterprise through the pattern of racketeering. Establishing a “pattern” usually requires at least two acts of racketeering activity within a 10-year period.

Defense strategies often focus on dismantling one or more of these elements. For instance, they may argue that the alleged activities do not constitute a “pattern” or that the defendant was not sufficiently involved in the enterprise. Given the severe penalties, which can include hefty fines and up to 20 years in prison per racketeering count, both sides often rely on extensive documentation, expert testimonies, and intricate legal arguments.

Trials are usually long-drawn affairs, involving multiple parties and numerous charges. The prosecution may use tools like wiretaps, surveillance, and informants to build their case, while the defense may scrutinize the validity and legality of such evidence. Due to the high stakes, RICO cases are typically handled by attorneys with specialized expertise in this area of law.

TL;DR: RICO is a powerful tool for prosecuting organized criminal activities, but its cases are complex and require a nuanced legal approach.

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emotional predator, by Midjourney

Chances are you’ve had an encounter with an emotional predator — whether you’re aware of it or not. Most everyone is familiar with the physical abuser: typically the man who beats his wife or female partner. But emotional abuse, and psychological abuse, are also integral components of abuse and are often present with, and precursors to, intimate partner physical violence.

Often individuals who abuse others have a personality disorder that increases their chances of becoming an abuser. Many of these personality disorders have narcissism at their roots — a psychological defense mechanism in which an individual harbors grandiose fantasies about themselves and feels selfishly entitled to having all their demands met.

Narcissists require a constant stream of admiration, or “narcissistic supply,” coming their way. They achieve this through charm, emotional and psychological manipulation, and all sorts of shady, unethical, or downright illegal tactics and behaviors. When a narcissist wants something from you, or wants you to do something, he can become a devious emotional predator who takes advantage of your good will for his own ends without thinking twice.

How to identify an emotional predator

One way to protect yourself from emotional predators is to understand how they behave, and become familiar with how to detect manipulative and deceptive behavior as early on as possible. If you see any of the warning signs below in a loved one, coworker, community member, or position of leadership, then use caution in dealings with this individual. Seek external advice and assistance in threat assessment before placing further trust in this person.

Emotional predation can take place at all levels: interpersonal interactions and intimate partnerships, within groups and organizations, as well as at much larger scales on the order of societies, nations, and — increasingly — global networks. If you feel something “off” in an interaction that feels loaded with emotional pressure, stop for a moment and do some critical thinking about whether someone is trying to prey on your emotions, and how to respond.

global network, by Midjourney

Emotional predators are often found leading cults (both small and large), so take a look at those who surround them and ask if they seem like mindless followers in thrall to the cult of personality of one individual. Assess whether you and/or others who interact with the psychic vampire experience the following phenomena:

  • Manipulating your emotions; emotional blackmail A form of manipulation where someone uses your feelings against you to get what they want. It often involves guilt-tripping, fear, and obligation, making you feel trapped in a cycle of compliance.
  • Love bombing — Used to secure your loyalty in the first place, love bombing is a technique in which the emotional predator showers you with affection, admiration, and gifts in the early stages of your relationship. Their goal is to create a strong attachment quickly, that will make it harder for you to see and recognize their darker traits coming out later on.
  • Negging; undermining confidence and self-esteem Negging is a tactic where someone offers backhanded compliments or subtle insults to undermine your self-esteem. The goal is to make you feel vulnerable, so you seek their approval.
  • Creating unnecessary chaos — Some individuals thrive on creating chaos to divert attention from their actions or to keep others off-balance. It’s a control tactic that leaves you feeling disoriented.
  • Consistent inconsistency; intermittent reinforcement — This involves unpredictable behavior, where positive reinforcement is given sporadically. It keeps you guessing and hooked, as you never know when the next “reward” will come; as in gambling, e.g.
  • GrandiosityAn inflated sense of self-importance and superiority over others. It’s often a mask for deep-seated insecurities.
  • One-way street — In a one-way relationship, one person’s needs and wants are prioritized over the other’s. It’s a dynamic that leaves one feeling drained and unappreciated.
  • Masters of deceptive and misleading stories — Some individuals are adept at crafting narratives that bend the truth, often to serve their own interests or manipulate others.
deceptive and misleading stories, by Midjourney
  • Love to play victim and hero — These individuals portray themselves as both the victim and the hero in different narratives, manipulating emotions to gain sympathy or admiration.
  • Diverting attention — Diversion tactics are used to shift focus away from the individual’s actions, often by blaming others or creating new issues.
  • Disregarding the lawSome people view laws as mere suggestions, often rationalizing illegal actions for personal gain or out of a sense of entitlement. The so-called Sovereign Citizens movement essentially codified this as an ideology the group believes in, and tries to use as legal argument in court (failing each time).
  • Denying plain facts; denialism — Denialism involves refusing to accept proven facts, often to protect one’s ego or agenda.
  • Assert the opposite of reality — This tactic involves making claims that are directly contradicted by observable facts, creating a confusing and disorienting environment.
  • Magical thinkingMagical thinking is the belief that one’s thoughts or actions can influence unrelated events. It’s often a way to avoid responsibility.
  • Projection — Assigning their own feelings or imputing their own motives into you. Projection involves attributing one’s own undesirable feelings or motives to another person, often as a defense mechanism.
  • See the world as with them or against them (splitting) — Splitting is a cognitive distortion where people are categorized as all good or all bad, with no middle ground or nuance.
  • Nurturing and maintaining enemies (paranoia) — Some individuals maintain a sense of purpose or identity by creating and nurturing perceived enemies, often based on exaggerated or imagined threats.
paranoia, by Midjourney
  • Moves the goalposts — Changing the criteria for success or approval, making it difficult for others to meet expectations.
  • Refuses to take responsibility or admit fault — Some folks deflect blame and never admit fault, often rationalizing their actions to avoid accountability.
  • Gaslightingcausing you to question your own sanity. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation where someone tries to make you doubt your own perceptions and sanity.
  • BullyingBullying involves repeated, intentional harm or intimidation, often to assert control or superiority over someone else.
  • Frequent liar / compulsive liar — Some individuals lie habitually, either to manipulate others or sometimes without any apparent reason.
  • Aggressive and easily angered — These individuals have low tolerance for frustration and may resort to aggression or anger to assert control or mask insecurities.
aggressive and easily angered -- by Midjourney

Arm yourself with as much information as you can about emotional predators and the tactics of undue influence techniques they use, as well as the real world history of cults and their consequences — and how to get people out of them via deprogramming techniques. Here’s a cults and mind control book list to get you started:

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cult warning signs

Cults, in general, refer to organizations or groups that often manipulate and exploit members, typically by using unorthodox beliefs and practices. Recognizing cult warning signs can be vital in identifying and understanding the risk before getting involved with a high demand group that may not have your best interests in mind.

  1. Excessive Devotion to a Leader: Cults usually revolve around charismatic leaders who demand absolute loyalty and obedience. A disproportionate reverence for these figures may serve as a red flag.
  2. Us vs. Them Mentality: Cults often draw clear lines between insiders and outsiders, emphasizing that only they possess the truth. This divisive mindset encourages isolation from family, friends, and society, leading to further control over the members.
  3. Coercive Persuasion and Manipulation: High-pressure tactics are common in recruiting and retaining members. This may include controlling information, employing guilt or fear, manipulating emotions to maintain allegiance, and other tactics of emotional predators.
  4. Excessive Financial Demands: Many cults require significant financial contributions, sometimes even requiring members to relinquish personal assets. This financial control reinforces dependence on the group.
  5. Rigidity of Beliefs and Practices: A cult’s ideology is often absolute, with no room for questioning or dissent. Those who challenge the beliefs are typically met with hostility, punishment, or expulsion. This fundamentalist mentality permeates the entire group’s thinking and behavior.
  6. Unrealistic Promises: Cults may lure individuals with promises of spiritual enlightenment, exclusive knowledge, or personal success, often unrealistic or unattainable. These promises can entice individuals seeking meaning or connection in their lives.
  7. Control Over Personal Lives: Intense control over members’ personal lives, including relationships, employment, and living arrangements, can be a clear warning sign. Such control can erode personal autonomy and self-identity.
  8. Emotional Abuse and Fear Tactics: Cults frequently use fear, shame, and guilt to control members, creating an environment where members feel constant anxiety about meeting the group’s standards or displeasing the leader.
  9. A Focus on Recruitment: Many cults prioritize recruitment above all else, viewing every interaction as an opportunity to bring others into the fold. The pressure to recruit can be relentless and is often a central component of the group’s activities.
  10. Impacts on Health and Wellbeing: The demanding nature of cult involvement can lead to negative effects on mental, emotional, and physical health. This can manifest as anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other health issues, often ignored or downplayed by the group.
  11. Use of hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) techniques

Recognizing these warning signs is crucial for individuals, families, and communities to understand the potential dangers and take appropriate steps to protect themselves. The subject of cults is sensitive, often tied to deeply personal and societal fears, and it requires careful consideration and empathy.

Resources on cults

  1. Cult Education Institute (CEI)Website
    • Overview: Operated by Rick Alan Ross, an internationally known expert on cults, CEI offers extensive resources, including a database of information on specific groups, techniques for intervention, and guidelines to recognize coercive persuasion.
    • Target Audience: Anyone looking to educate themselves about cults, from concerned family members to academic researchers.
  2. International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)Website
    • Overview: ICSA is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups. They offer conferences, publications, and support networks.
    • Target Audience: Researchers, professionals, former cult members, and concerned family and friends.
  3. Freedom of Mind Resource CenterWebsite
    • Overview: Created by Steven Hassan, a mental health counselor and former cult member, this site offers resources on combating mind control in various settings, including cults, terrorism, and human trafficking.
    • Target Audience: General public, mental health professionals, and individuals directly affected by cults.
  4. Cult Information Centre (CIC)Website
    • Overview: Based in the UK, the CIC provides information, advice, and support to those concerned about cults. They offer educational programs and direct help to those affected.
    • Target Audience: UK residents, though the information is applicable globally.
  5. Reddit’s Cults CommunitySubreddit
    • Overview: This online community allows individuals to discuss personal experiences, share research, and ask questions related to cults. Moderated for respectful dialogue, it offers a more informal but still informative perspective.
    • Target Audience: Those looking for community interaction, shared experiences, and casual information on the subject.
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