The Founders meant for the republic to be agile in philosophy — always changing to meet the new demands of the next generations. They meant for us to be self-governing, and empowered to create policy for problem-solving in new eras they themselves could not even conceive of. Thomas Jefferson wrote forewarningly of the Dead Hand of the Past and how critical it would be to not remain trapped by it. The Founders were agile not in the sense of software development (obviously!), but in the same spirit: they embraced responding to change over following a plan, and in continuously uncovering ways to develop a more perfect union.
Conservative ideology on the other hand — and in particular, Originalism — flouts the actual intentions of the Framers while cloaking itself in nationalist symbology. It tries to claim that our modern hands are tied by the dead ones of the past. The Originalist doctrine currently holding sway at The Supreme Court, The Federalist Society, and the majority of right-wing judiciary maintains that the best we can do is peer feebly into the distant past and try our best to squeeze ourselves into the minds of the men who inked our Constitution some 235 years ago.
The Founders wrote things. A lot of things.
Leaving aside for a moment the impracticality of that theory as an actual practice of interpreting the law, some consideration of materials on hand shows us that we needn’t go to all that trouble in the first place — why? Because the Founders left a lot of writings behind about exactly what they meant, and the principles they were thinking about, at the time of the nation’s founding and the drafting of our Constitution.
Conspiracy theories are not new. Covid-related conspiracies may be new, but conspiracy theories about pandemics and contagious diseases have been around for centuries. Anti-vaccination hysteria goes back decades. The specific group of theories known as QAnon may be new (or maybe not really?!), but conspiracy theories themselves are a tale(s) as old as time — or at least time as we know it, from the start of recorded history.
We are fundamentally wired to be storytellers. It’s intuitive why this ability might be hard-coded into our brains, as it so clearly relates to survival, self-preservation, and our ability to navigate and succeed in a complex world. We need to be able to understand cause and effect in an environment of many rapidly shifting variables, and storytelling is a framework for weaving coherent narratives that reduce our anxiety about the great uncertainties in the environment around us.
Conspiracy theories tap into psychological needs
Conspiratorial thinking is far more common than we think, and can ebb and flow in populations based on prevailing conditions. Our ability to see patterns in randomness and dissemble stories on the spot, along with numerous other cognitive and psychological biases, make us vulnerable to belief in conspiracy theories.
It is going to become increasingly more difficult to discern from fact from fiction, here in this world that seemingly quickly flipped from a world of The Enlightenment to a world of dark disinformation. From AI to vast propaganda machines, from deep fakes to fake lives — it’s going to require more from us to be able to detect what’s real.
Already we can’t rely on old cues, signposts, and tropes anymore. We’re less credulous about credentials, and trust isn’t automatic based on caste, title, or familiar status markers.
Go slow and look for mimics
Here’s one key to more accurate reality detection: take more time to spot the fake. Don’t judge too quickly, because it can take time to weed out the fakesters and the hucksters — some are decent mimics and can fool people who are in a hurry, not paying much attention, or attracted to some irrelevant other quality about the ersatz knockoff and thus forms an affinity with them based on something else entirely. Some drink the Kool-Aid for various reasons.
Clues of fraud
Those who cling absurdly to abstract symbols are often fakes. And in general, any folks who feel like they are just trying a little bit too hard might be fake. Then, of course, there are the full-on zealots and religious nutbags. These theocrats are definitely faux compassionate Jesus-lovers. What better cloak than the robes of a religious man (or, less frequently, woman)? It’s the perfect disguise.
No wonder so many child abusers hide out in churches of all kinds, from famously the Catholic to the more recently-outed (though not surprising) Evangelical Southern Baptist Church. No one will ever suspect them, or want to confront them if they do. Plus, they have Democrats to absurdly try and pin the blame on repeatedly, despite a lack of a shred of evidence.
We need to know what our opponents are up to. There is much to learn.
Much more to come — stay tuned!
Appeal to violence
Attack the person instead of their ideas.
Issue threats and/or violate boundaries.
argumentum ad passiones
"I feel it (or I feel *strongly* about it), therefore it must be true."
Assert the opposite of reality
Simply state the opposite of what is true
Book banning is a form of censorship in which government officials or organizations remove books from libraries, school reading lists, or bookstore shelves because of objections to content, ideas, or themes.
Believes oneself to be superior and requiring of association with high-status people
Related to supremacy and collective narcissism, this worldview is one of extreme entitlement and expected deference.
Black & white thinking
A pattern of thought characterized by polar extremes, sometimes flip-flopping very rapidly from one extreme view to its opposite. A symptom of many personality disorders.
"I'm not responsible for my bad behaviors: DEMOCRATS ARE!"
Intimidating, harming, or coercing -- usually of someone who is perceived as vulnerable.
Cloying, often superficial or fake charm
Compelling attractiveness that fascinates, allures, or delights
not open to an argument from facts
Having an incongruent value system, or believing mutually exclusive things -- as well as behaving without consistent ethical principles; a sense of randomness to one's approach to life.
Communicate by emotional contagion
Communication is difficult or impossible
Creating unnecessary chaos
Create conflict to get attention and get a chance to get what you want.
Seeks support through an appeal to desires and prejudices of voters instead of rational arguments.
Demand mirroring of their emotions
Denying plain facts
Do not perform emotional work
Envious of others and believes others are envious
Exaggerating one's achievements and talents
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
Cause you to question your own sanity -- very dangerous to do this to people. The effects are long-lasting and difficult to do; it can take many years to heal from this kind of insidious abuse.
Grandiose sense of self-importance
Hard to give to; reject efforts to give help
high need for closure
Prefers to resolve situations quickly and reduce uncertainty as immediately as possible
Consistently fail to live up to their own stated ideals, and the things they demand of others.
idealize, devalue, discard
The narcissistic abuse cycle
Interpsonally exploitative; takes advantage of others
Lacks empathy; unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Love to play victim and hero
They want your emotions oscillating all over the place, because it gives them more opportunities to swoop in and capture you at a vulnerable moment and earn your trust -- so they can violate it.
Masters of deceptive and misleading stories
They start with the premise they want and work from there -- they are bad scientists, but good lawyers.
Moving the goalposts
Expect loyalty from you while offering none in return
panem et circuses
Nurturing and maintaining enemies
Lying under oath, in court or in a deposition
Their main aspect is fear, from bouts of phobia indoctrination
Play the victim
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success
Accusing your opponent of doing the thing that you yourself are doing.
Requires excessive admiration
Resist repairing relationships
Just blame Democrats, no matter how absurd
Covert actions; lack of transparency
See roles as sacred and inviolable
Seek enmeshment, not emotional intimacy
Sense of entitlement; expects others to make unreasonable sacrifices
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes
See the world as with them or against them (splitting)
Take a thing and turn it into its moral opposite
Label a good thing bad so you can smear it, or a bad thing good so you can support it
It is a way of pseudo-argument privileging one narrow type of political view (conservatism) over all others — a view that we must try to divine the “original” intentions of the Founders in our creation and interpretation of the law.
A view that, by the way, the Founders did not share.
Originalism is an excuse framework for denying people the right to self-govern unless approved of by the white aristocratic elite who fancy themselves the Real Americans, over and above everyone else.
It is based on a kind of paternalism over the Founders, whose “perceived shock” at modernity itself would allegedly disallow almost anything the 340 million modern inhabitants of the United States want to do versus what would have been acceptable to the 2.5 million individuals who declared independence almost 250 years ago.
Originalism is a way of allowing conservative judges to play God. It takes the radical ideas of the Enlightenment in our self-governance and twists them back into a form of “received wisdom” delivered by conservative judges’ religious views — in violation of the First Amendment.
Fundamentalist lawyers, judges, and legal operatives often want to drag “original” back even further — to Biblical law. In both cases, the power grab lies in religious nationalists inserting themselves into the picture as the only interpreters of “God’s will” or “the textualist view” (how convenient!), in which they believe the founding documents were theocratic when they clearly were the opposite of that — the Founders talked about it a lot! And many of them were Deists, famously so.
Mind control is a type of “psychological technology” used by con artists, cult leaders, and influence peddlers of all stripes to try and modify human behavior, to twist it to one’s own nefarious and usually opaque ends. Also referred to as undue influence, emotional abuse, or thought reform, mind control is a set of techniques designed to hack in to the brain’s cognitive quirks, biases, and numerous psychobiological “opportunities to circumvent rational and critical thought.”
Cults are a specific structure of social organization formed through the application of mind control. There are at least 2 “layers” and often many interstitial rings that draw members ever closer to a hidden agenda lurking at the center — the true purpose of the organization that most of the footsoldiers know nothing about, because they work for one of the many “friendly PR faces” tacked on to the outside of the group to disguise the malignancy within.
Position himself (and the group — his extension) as the only safe haven to turn to when afraid: “I alone can fix it!”
Isolate followers from other sources of information — i.e. keep them in the Fox/OANN/Newsmax ecosystem
Arouse fear in the follower — invent invisible boogeymen everywhere! Huge caravans at the border that mysteriously disappear after elections! Evil liberals trying to do their jobs in schools and educate our youth about our history! INFLATION looms as a large spectre every time the left manages to eke out a few pennies from the cold unfeeling hands of the aristocrats!
Rinse; repeat. Stoking fear is “EZ Mode” — it means one of the parties in our two-party system can “de facto secede” from governance by just sitting on the sidelines and heckling all day, waiting for the problems and frustration to boil over so they can harness the abject anger of poor manipulated people into political weaponry, to break their lives on the wheels of history carelessly and for no higher purpose than personal greed and addiction to power, wealth, and status.
This set of books is a lead on how they fuel their political war machine:
Qualities of a Cult Leader
Narcissistic — highly self-absorbed, they demand excessive admiration and slavish devotion to their whims.
Charismatic — they have a way of grabbing attention, whether positive or negative.
Unpredictable — erratic behavior keeps enemies on their toes and fans “on edge” with desire to please Dear Leader.
Insatiable drive — it could be status, money, sex, power, or all of the above, but they feel they deserve it more than anyone else on the planet.
Lack of conscience — they have no shame and will demand things a decent human being would not.
In half a decade we’ve gone from Jeb Bush making a serious run for president to Marjorie Taylor Greene running unopposed and winning a House seat in Georgia. QAnon came seemingly out of nowhere, but taps into a much deeper and older series of conspiracy theories that have surfaced, resurfaced, and been remixed throughout time.
Why do people believe in conspiracy theories? In an increasingly complex world of information bombarding us as blinding speed and high volume, the cognitive appeal of easy answers and turnkey “community” may be much stronger than ever before.
The term Christian nationalists brings together a number of radical religious sects seeking to overthrow the democratic republic of the United States and installing a strict theocracy, from dominionists to orthodox Catholics to Evangelicals and many more.
Here are some of the people and groups involved in the modern day movement to establish a Christian theocratic government in America:
Abraham Hamilton III — host of American Family Radio’s “Hamilton Corner” who described the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as “Satan’s work” that was “immune to legislation.” He went on to claim that the Democrats were “exploiting” the victims by calling for hearings on gun control
Mythology has it that “reckless Democratic spending” is to blame for the ballooning of the national debt — though the historical record shows otherwise.
In fact, the conservatives‘ beloved demi-god Ronald Reagan was the first President to skyrocket the debt, thanks to some bunk ideas from an old cocktail napkin that linger to this day — the Republican monetary theory in a nutshell is (I shit you not) that we should take all our pooled tax money and give it to… billionaires. Because, you know, they’re clearly the most qualified people to make decisions affecting the 99% poor people. Supposedly they’re the smartest folks to entrust with our money.
Except it’s not true, as year after year and study after study shows. Nor for all their finger-waggling at Democrats over the national debt has the GOP turned in a balanced budget since Nixon. Republicans are the most gigantic hypocrites on economics writ large, but particularly so for the national debt — with Reagan, Bush I, Bush II, and Trump all turning in record debt increases, primarily through tax cuts for the wealthy and the Gulf and Afghanistan wars.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton balanced the budget, created a surplus, and reduced the debt during his 8 years in office, and Obama inherited the deepest recession since the 1929 Great Depression.
The financial crisis of 2008-09, itself caused by the reckless Republican zeal for deregulation — this time of financial derivatives — was a wholly GOP-owned debacle that the next president paid for politically. Nevertheless, President Obama had the debt again on a reduction path as a percentage of GDP — but then Donald “I bankrupted a series of casinos!” Trump oozed his way into the highest office in the land.
During the Trump administration, Republicans patted themselves on the back for giving a $2.7 trillion tax cut to billionaires for no reason, while the economy was relatively hot already (after being rescued by Obama). Not only was no progress made on diminishing the debt, but the national debt actually increased (both nominally and as a percentage of GDP) under Trump’s first term even before the sudden arrival of a novel coronavirus caused it to leap into the stratosphere like a 21st century American tech oligarch.
Only when President Biden arrived on the scene and took the helm of fiscal and monetary policy did the national debt begin cooling off once again — all while dramatically and quickly scaling up covid-19 vaccine production and distribution and passing over $3 trillion in Keynesian legislation meant to get the dregs of the middle class reoriented to a place on the map vis-a-vis the 1% once again.
Republican national debt bullshit
I am hereby calling bullshit on Republicans’ crocodile tears over the national debt, which they suddenly remember only when a Democrat is in town and summarily ignore while their guy is in the hot seat burning through cash like it’s going out of style.
We need to have a better collective narrative for Democratic success on the economy. The Republicans are no longer the kings of the economic world — if they ever were. It feels more like smoke and mirrors each passing day, with climate change denial, the Inflationary Boogeyman, and other GOP Greatest Hits playing ad nauseum on the AM social media waves.
Here are at least a few things to remember about the national debt, that Republicans generally get wrong:
wars are very expensive
booms in social services are expensive too; but not as expensive as wars
there is not any perceivable truth in the old GOP party line that Democrats always overspend and Republicans are always thrifty
Reagan and both Bushes presided over two of the biggest spikes in public debt in recorded history, outside of FDR who had both the Great Depression and WWII to contend with
Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, and Truman all decreased the debt
be wary of graphs that don’t “normalize” to GNP — it’s an attempt to “lie with statistics” by obfuscating the roles of inflation and the growth of the economy itself
there is more than one way to look at and evaluate the level of public debt
It may have seemed like the election of 2016 came out nowhere, and the January 6, 2021 attempted coup event was another deep gash to the fabric of assumption — but in reality, the authoritarian movement to dismantle America has been working diligently for a long time. Depending on how you count, the current war against the government began in the 1970s after Roe v. Wade, or in the 1960s after the Civil Rights Act, or in the 1950s with the John Birch Society, or in the 1930s with the American fascists, or in the 1870s with the Redemption and Lost Cause Religion, or in the 1840s with the Southern Baptist split, or in the 1790s when we emerged from the Articles of Confederation.
We are facing an unprecedented crisis of democracy under attack by the most current roster of these extremists, hardliners, theocrats, plutocrats, and others of their ilk. The following mind map diagrams the suspects and perpetrators of the Jan 6 coup as we know so far — including the Council for National Policy, the Koch network, Trump and his merry band of organized criminals, the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other right-wing militia groups, rioters who have been arrested in the January 6th probe, persons of interest who have been subpoena’d by the January 6 Committee in the House, and anyone or anything else connected to the ongoing plot to kill America whether near or far in relation. The map extends to include coverage of the basic factions at work in the confusing melodrama of American politics, and their historical precedents.
Mind map of the sedition diaspora
I’ll be continuing to work on this as information comes out of the various investigations and inquiries into the attempted coup to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, from the January 6 Committee to Merrick’s DOJ, the GA district attorney, NY district attorney, various civil suits, and probably more we don’t even know about yet. You can navigate the full mind map as it grows here:
Head onward into “Continue Reading” to see the same mind map through a geographic perspective:
Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is a broad measure of a nation’s economic output. It includes the value of all goods and services produced within a country’s geographic borders over a specified amount of time; often a year, for comparative annual GDP studies.
Inequality is the difference in measures of economic well-being between individuals in a group, among groups in a population, or among countries. Also known as economic inequality; inclusive of both income inequality and wealth inequality.
In the United States, the data broadly shows shared economic growth and prosperity in the post-WWII period until the 1970s, when things begin to take a turn: economic growth slowed and income inequality began to increase. For the past 40-50 years, income growth for lower and middle class Americans has stagnated while income growth at the top of the distribution remained growing strongly. Meanwhile as wages have stagnated, costs have risen dramatically, especially in key universal areas like housing, utilities, health care, and education.
Those at the top of the wealth distribution who benefit financially from the growing inequality find numerous ways to justify the architecture of the system, and retain much of the power and control over its design. Yet an overwhelming majority of the available historical and present-day data indicates that stark income inequality has wide-ranging negative effects on societies as a whole, from exacerbating social ills to deleterious effects on basic human needs.
Endangers the basic viability of democracy by concentrating power vs. distributing it broadly
It feels like the 1930s all over again — and with good reason. The rise of American fascists and right-wing extremism around the world has been a known trend for decades, and America’s past flirtations with fascism had been largely swept under the rug by the then anti-semites who tried to put a stop to FDR’s New Deal and prevent the U.S. from getting into World War II.
Those fascists, butthurt over America’s overwhelmingly popular decision to enter the war and stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, seethed with jealousy at the post-war “liberal consensus” that flourished alongside the booming US economy, propelled first by the war effort and later by the peacetime success of the New Deal‘s long shadow and the burgeoning of the American middle class.
The American fascists turned into the John Birch Society, and the McCarthyites, and the Libertarians, and the Moral Majority, and the Gingrich Revolution, and the Tea Party, and the MAGA / QAnon stew sloshing around mass media. The kooks on the far right — the kind of ilk so cray cray that even William F. Buckley excommunicates you from the Republican Party — have taken over the hen house now. Outrage sells, as Facebook well knows — and as two-bit dictators around the world have bribed Mark Zuckerberg to brainwash the masses using the most inanely illogical propaganda prolefeed, the world tilts dangerously towards authoritarianism and the end of our democracy as we know it. And with it, all hope for truth and light into the future for some time to come — the equivalent of a political meteor hitting the Earth.
The American fascists are still around, and now they have tools of propaganda that Goebbels could never have even wet dreamed of. They’re more powerful and more well-connected — to other sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and other pathological cult-leader types who might be of transactional service to each other from time to time. We’d be wise to keep an eye on these folks.
It’s been said that the devilish ways of pedophiliac liberal Democrats are killing Christianity in America, but the numbers tell a different story. Following the 2016 Armistice in the War on Christmas, Donald Trump yet managed to drive 1 in 7 Evangelicals from the fold, according to data from Pew and PRRI.
Far from the surge in True Believers prophesied by the right wing, the religious right’s deal with the proverbial and/or literal devil seems to have driven members away. Trump is losing Evangelicals, and really — should we be so shocked? If it doesn’t matter (to some) whether our leaders are serial philanderers and lifelong business cheats, or earnestly striving public servants spreading compassion — what use is their moral code, then? None. It is bankrupt.
Shrödinger’s Moral Leadership
The religious right can’t have it both ways — either moral leadership is important, or it isn’t. It can’t selectively be important *only* when a Democrat is in power. Evangelicals also need to make a choice between God and Caesar. Prosperity gospel is the latter and not the former, but many pretend otherwise or are fooled — after all, fool’s gold can still fool.
Cognitive dissonance upon dissonance continues to fall in the totally unraked forest of right-wing values. I’m aiming to continue pulling on a few threads connecting the religious right, and Evangelicals in particular, to the rise of political extremism in the Republican Party:
The pitch that winning the culture war is more important than God’s law is thin at best
Donald Trump is not a Christian
The “imperfect vessel” fails as moral justification
Jesus didn’t care about tax cuts
Christian leaders’ claims that politics is amoral ground beyond the reach of God’s teachings is self-evident nonsense
Christians are leaving their own moral house unguarded. No one is showing the living proof of Jesus’ teachings anymore — and it’s not the fault of the people on the left who weren’t doing it before.