2024 Election

Racists tend to see democracy itself as a conspiracy against white people, thanks in large part to the Lost Cause Religion that sprouted up after the South lost the Civil War and had to live with themselves after destroying their economy and stature for immoral ends. Authoritarians tend to get very agitated by diversity and difference. White nationalism is the Venn diagram between these two groups.

White nationalist ideology gained renewed attention in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, often manifesting through hate groups, online forums, and political movements. White nationalists argue for policies that would establish or maintain a white majority in the country, often opposing immigration from non-European countries and advocating for policies that they believe would preserve white culture. These views are widely considered to be based on racial prejudices and are often associated with hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

Prominent white nationalists

With the emergence of the alt-right and neoreaction groups espousing flavors of accelerationism during the Trump era, a host of white nationalists have come out of the closet and said the quiet parts out loud. Here are a few figures to watch out for:

Related to white nationalism

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A dictionary of Christian nationalism terms, to be curated and added to over time:

  • 10 Commandments
  • acolytes
  • affirmative action
  • American exceptionalism
  • apostles
  • apostates
  • baptism
  • biblical values
  • biblical worldview
  • born-again — within Christian nationalism, being born-again is not just a private spiritual matter but also a call to action to bring about a nation that aligns with specific Christian principles. The born-again experience is thus politicized, serving as a catalyst for engaging in activities aimed at shaping national identity, policy, and governance in accordance with a particular Christian worldview.
  • Calvinism
  • cheap grace — cheap grace refers to the concept of receiving forgiveness and moral absolution without any personal cost or commitment to ethical transformation. It’s often criticized for reducing the complexities of faith and morality to a simplistic transaction, undermining the depth and rigor of spiritual practice.
  • โ€œChristian journalismโ€
  • Christian Reconstructionism
  • City Upon a Hill — The phrase “city upon a hill” is often invoked in conservative discourse to emphasize America’s role as a beacon of freedom, democracy, and moral leadership for the world. Originating from a sermon by Puritan leader John Winthrop in 1630, the term has been adapted to advocate for a vision of American exceptionalism and the importance of upholding traditional values.
  • clergy
  • communion
  • Conservative Resurgence — historical period in the late 1970s and early 80s that started to reverse the trend backwards from the political and economic philosophies of the New Deal, and away from church liberalization efforts and towards a more hardline, fundamentalist approach complete with purges of moderates
  • conversions
  • culture war — The term “culture war” refers to the ideological and social conflicts that arise when different groups clash over issues like religion, morality, politics, and social norms. These battles often manifest in debates over topics such as LGBTQ+ rights, abortion, immigration, and the role of government, and they can deeply influence public opinion and policy.
  • “defense of marriage”
  • demons
  • End Times
  • family values — “family values” often refers to a set of traditional beliefs that emphasize the importance of the nuclear family, marital fidelity, and conservative religious principles. These values are seen as the bedrock of a stable society and are often contrasted with more progressive or liberal social norms.
  • flyover country
  • fundamentalism
  • The Golden Rule
  • The Great Awakening
  • groupthink
  • holy ghost — one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity; believed to be the active presence of God in the world today. The Holy Ghost is often associated with guiding believers, empowering them with spiritual gifts, and serving as a comforter or advocate.
  • holy spirit
  • homeschooling
  • hypocrisy
  • i360 — Charles Koch’s massive database of 230 million voters and their intimate demographic data, deployed for use in a wide range of Republican campaigns
  • The Johnson Amendment
  • Kingdom action
  • liturgy — Liturgy refers to the prescribed set of rituals, prayers, and ceremonies that make up the formal public worship in religious traditions, particularly in Christianity. It serves as a structured framework that guides the communal expression of faith and devotion.
  • love thy neighbor
  • “moral decay”
  • the โ€œnatural familyโ€
  • The New International Version (NIV) Bible
  • the New Right
  • The New Testament
  • The Old Testament
  • nuns
  • paleoconservatives
  • party of character
  • pastors
  • pious
  • predestination
  • priests
  • proselytizing — Proselytizing refers to the act of attempting to convert someone to a particular religion, belief system, or ideology. It often involves persuasive techniques and may be carried out through various means such as one-on-one conversations, literature distribution, or public speaking.
  • Prosperity Gospel
  • Rapture
  • received wisdom
  • religious freedom / religious liberty
  • “right to work”
  • sacrament
  • “school choice”
  • Second Vatican Council
  • sermon
  • seven mountains dominionism; 7D
  • soft coup dโ€™etat
  • Telecommunications Act of 1996
  • televangelism
  • theoconservatives
  • “traditional marriage”
  • War on Christmas

See also: A list of Christian nationalists

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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 group who 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. Redditโ€™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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The Council for National Policy is a conservative organization founded in 1981 by far-right Republican activists in the U.S. including Paul Weyrich, Richard Viguerie, Phyllis Schlafly, and Tim LaHaye to advance a Christian Right agenda in American politics.

Today, the CNP is enormously influential on the right and almost unknown on the left. Its secretive cabal designs policy for federal and state lawmakers to amplify or parrot, and they dutifully do. Members include a who’s who of the Trumpian rogue gallery, from Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway to Mike Pence, Jim Jordan, Cleta Mitchell, and of course, Ginni Thomas.

The CNP gave Mike Flynn an annual award. Then-President Trump spoke at their 2020 annual meeting. That tells you pretty much all you need to know about how dangerous and well-connected this organization is, and how great is the extent of the group’s influence on American politics — and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Columbia University scholar Anne Nelson describes the primary impact of the group as โ€œconnecting the manpower and media of the Christian right with the finances of Western plutocrats and the strategy of right-wing Republican political operativesโ€ in her excellent book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right.

CNP and the Big Lie

They go to great lengths to conceal their activities, membership rosters, and connections within the corridors of Washington as well as in state legislatures and the judiciary. For more than 40 years the CNP has united the deep pocketbooks of right-wing donors with strategists, media campaigns, and activists. The group was deeply involved in both the efforts to overturn the 2020 election, leading up to and including the January 6 insurrection — from funding and planning to propaganda and “legal” challenges.

The CNP continues to press its narrow, historically revisionist ideas about America, including efforts to influence the 2022 midterm elections and, undoubtedly, the 2024 contest. In the quest to understand this fractious moment of bitter partisanship, the Council for National Policy is one of the secret keys to unlocking the true inner workings of the right-wing political machine.

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Propaganda is a form of communication that aims to influence people’s beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors towards a particular cause, idea, or ideology. It involves the use of persuasive techniques to shape public opinion and to create a favorable image of a person, group, or organization, while discrediting or demonizing its opponents.

Propaganda can take many different forms, including posters, speeches, films, radio broadcasts, social media posts, and news articles. It can be used for political, social, religious, or commercial purposes, and it is often associated with authoritarian regimes or totalitarian societies.

One of the key characteristics of propaganda is its use of emotional appeals, rather than rational arguments, to sway people’s opinions. Propagandists often appeal to people’s fears, hopes, bigotries, or prejudices, and use catchy slogans, symbols, or images to make their message more memorable and persuasive. They may also use repetition, exaggeration, or distortion of facts to reinforce their message and to create a sense of urgency or crisis.

Disinformation at scale

Another key feature of propaganda is its use of selective or biased information to support its claims and to discredit opposing views. Propagandists may use half-truths, rumors, lies, or Big Lies to create a false or misleading picture of the situation, and to manipulate people’s perceptions of reality. They may also use censorship or propaganda techniques such as suppression of dissent, demonization of opponents, or use of fear to create a chilling climate of fear and intimidation.

Propaganda can also be used to create a sense of unity or identity among a group of people, by emphasizing their shared values, beliefs, or interests, and by portraying outsiders or enemies as a threat to their well-being. Propaganda can thus be used to mobilize people for a common cause, such as a war or a political campaign, or to reinforce existing social norms and values.

However, propaganda can also have negative consequences, such as creating divisions, fostering hatred, or suppressing dissent. It can lead to the dehumanization of other groups or individuals, and to the justification of violence or discrimination. Propaganda can also undermine democracy by limiting people’s access to accurate information and by creating a distorted view of reality.

To resist propaganda, it is important to be critical of the messages we receive, to question the sources and motives of the information, and to seek out alternative perspectives and sources of information. We should also be aware of our own biases and prejudices, and strive to be open-minded and tolerant of different opinions and viewpoints.

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Cancel culture refers to the practice of publicly calling out or boycotting individuals, companies, or institutions for behavior that is perceived to be offensive, controversial, or problematic. The goal is to hold these entities accountable for their actions and to pressure them to change their behavior.

This can manifest in various ways, such as social media campaigns, petitions, or protests. The aim of cancel culture is often to create social consequences for the perceived wrongdoing, such as loss of employment, loss of social status, or loss of financial support.

History of cancel culture

The term cancel culture emerged out of the earlier concept of political correctness, and gained popularity in the 2010s alongside the rise of social media. Some scholars and media theorists trace the concept of cancel culture back to even earlier phenomena, such as the boycotts and blacklists of the McCarthyism era in the United States on the right, or the call-out culture of feminist and anti-racist movements on the left.

Cancel culture and political correctness are related in that they both involve social and cultural pressure to conform to certain norms of language and behavior. Political correctness refers to the avoidance of language or actions that may be considered discriminatory, offensive, or insensitive, often with the aim of promoting inclusivity and social justice. Both tend to concern themselves with highlighting language, stereotypes, and assumptions rooted in racism, sexism, and other common forms of bigotry throughout history.

Cancel culture vs. political correctness

In some ways cancel culture can be seen as an extension of political correctness, in that it goes a step further by seeking to hold individuals and entities accountable for violating norms of respect and social justice. The collective power of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets has helped activists organize around ethical, moral, and political issues, and provided new tools for achieving accountability goals, through activities such as public shaming, boycotts, or other forms of social and economic pressure.

In my opinion, the right-wing critique of so-called cancel culture is grounded in an erroneous conflation between governmental action and collective organizing by groups of individuals who are themselves often associated with political activism. Cancel culture is often mentioned in the same breath with censorship, whose definition connotes government tyranny and overreach.

Cancel culture vs. censorship

Typically, however, the government is not involved in actual instances of cancel culture — it is merely people exercising collective powers provided by private social media companies. In fact, it seems to me that right-wing policy tends to involve actual censorship — such as Florida governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, or (also in FL) the Republican bill introduced which would require political bloggers to register with the state.

I think it’s important to be discerning, in these instances, about who is exercising power and why — is it really a case of the government overreaching (censorship), or is it simply a group of people reacting appropriately to the continued presence of structural racism, sexism, and many other -isms in modern society: and stubbornly so, after decades and centuries of collective social justice work?

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Political psychology is an interdisciplinary field that examines the psychological processes underlying political behavior, attitudes, and decision-making. It seeks to understand how people’s beliefs, emotions, and motivations influence their political preferences, and how these preferences shape their behavior within the political system.

Political psychology draws on theories and methods from psychology, political science, sociology, and other social sciences to study topics such as political ideology, voting behavior, political attitudes, public opinion, intergroup relations, political leadership, and conflict resolution.

The field also examines how political events and institutions affect individuals’ psychological well-being and how psychological factors contribute to the formation of political identity and collective action. Political psychology has practical applications in areas such as political communication, campaign strategy, policymaking, and international relations.

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Dark money refers to political spending by organizations that are not required to disclose their donors or how much money they spend. This allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to secretly fund political campaigns and influence elections without transparency or accountability.

The term “dark money” gained prominence after the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In that case, the Court ruled that corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns, as long as the spending was not coordinated with a candidate’s campaign.

This decision opened the floodgates for massive amounts of dark money to flow into political campaigns, often with no way for the public to know who was behind it. Dark money can come from a variety of sources, including wealthy individuals, corporations, trade associations, and non-profit organizations.

Hidden donors

Non-profit organizations, in particular, have become a popular way for donors to hide their political contributions. These organizations can operate under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which allows them to engage in some political activity as long as it is not their primary purpose. These groups are not required to disclose their donors, which means that wealthy individuals and corporations can funnel unlimited amounts of money into political campaigns without anyone knowing where the money came from.

Another way that dark money is used in politics is through “shell corporations.” These are companies that exist solely to make political donations and are often set up specifically to hide the identity of the true donor. For example, a wealthy individual could set up a shell corporation and then use that corporation to donate to a political campaign. Because the corporation is listed as the donor, the individual’s name does not appear on any public disclosure forms.

The money can be used to run ads, create content and propaganda, fund opposition research, pay armadas of PR people, send direct mail, lobby Congress, hire social media influencers, and many other powerful marketing strategies to reach and court voters.

These practices erode at the foundations of representative democracy, and the kind of government the Founders had in mind. One is free to vote for who one wishes, and to advocate for who ones wishes to hold power, but one has no Constitutional right to anonymity when doing so. It infringes on others peoples’ rights as well — the right to representative and transparent government.

Dark money impact

Dark money can have a significant impact on elections and public policy. Because the source of the money is not known, candidates and elected officials may be influenced by the interests of the donors rather than the needs of their constituents. This can lead to policies that benefit wealthy donors and special interest groups rather than the broader public.

There have been some efforts to increase transparency around dark money. For example, the DISCLOSE Act, which has been introduced in Congress several times since 2010, would require organizations that spend money on political campaigns to disclose their donors (the acronym stands for “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections”). However, these efforts have been met with resistance from groups that benefit from the lack of transparency — who, somewhat ironically, have been using their influence with the Republican Party to make sure the GOP opposes the bill and prevents it from passing, or even coming up for a vote at all.

In addition to the impact on elections and policy, dark money can also undermine public trust in government. When voters feel that their voices are being drowned out by the interests of wealthy donors and special interest groups, they may become disillusioned with the political process and less likely to participate.

Overall, dark money is a significant problem in American politics. The lack of transparency and accountability around political spending allows wealthy individuals and special interest groups to wield undue influence over elections and policy. To address this problem, it will be important to increase transparency around political spending and reduce the influence of money in politics.

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The Big Lie about the 2020 Election was hardly the first or even the Biggest of the Big Lies in American history — fomented in vast majority by the right wing. Call it a personality trait, an ideology, or perhaps a financial preference — but Republicans seem to lean towards the disingenuous end of the truth scale.

What are Big Lies?

A Big Lie refers to a propaganda technique that involves repeating a falsehood or exaggeration so frequently and convincingly that people begin to accept it as truth. The term was popularized by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, where he wrote that propaganda must be based on a “big lie” because people are counterintuitively more likely to believe a colossal falsehood than a small one because of its sheer audacity.

The technique of the Big Lie is often used by authoritarian leaders, political parties, and movements to manipulate public opinion and gain power. It relies on the psychological phenomenon known as the “illusory truth effect,” which suggests that people are more likely to believe something if they hear it repeatedly. Ironically, even a debunking of the Big Lie can contribute to the illusory truth effect by keeping the content of the falsehood top of mind in the eye of the believer.

Examples of Big Lies

Examples of the Big Lie include the claim that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, the false assertion that vaccines cause autism, and the Nazi propaganda (blood libel and global cabal theory, among other hateful ideologies) that blamed Germany’s problems on the Jewish people, scapegoating them unfairly and setting up a justification for the horrific murder at scale known as the Holocaust.

The danger of the Big Lie is that it can lead to widespread disinformation, polarization and hyper partisanship, and even violence. It is essential to fact-check claims and resist the impulse to accept information at face value. Instead, critical thinking, fact-checking, and seeking out multiple sources of information can help individuals and society avoid falling prey to the Big Lie.

The following table is a compendium of GOP Big Lies known so far.

MythDefinition
"Antifa did it"This is a pre-planned "reusable" false narrative for right-wing extremist actions. It's a ready-made "false false flag" conspiracy for repeated deployment as white supremacists and homegrown extremists ratchet up the level of political violence.
"government overreach"When Democrats pass a law that Republicans don't like
"Makers and takers"
"National security party"
"Quality" of votes
2nd Amendment"We can't do anything about guns because 2A" (and also because NRA) + "Democrats are coming to take our guns!"
Abu Ghraib
American DreamThey inverted it away from a sense of social justice and equal opportunity (self-governance) to simply embody the venal pursuit of money.
America FirstInvoked by right-wing propaganda campaigns over the past century, starting with Charles Lindbergh in 1939 through to Reagan (1980s), and again with lazy plagiarizing Donnie
American Exceptionalism
Anti-gay
Anti-immigrant
Anti-TaxWhat do you get for the billionaire who has everything? Tax policy.
Be Best
Black and white thinkingLabel anything slightly left of center as socialism or Communism
Blacks are commies
Cancel culture
Christian nationalism
Cities are bad
Climate change is a hoax
Coastal elites
Communists
Confederate statues
Conscience voters
Corporate liberalsAnti-Semitic throwback with a modern twist
Covid is a hoax; covid is overblown
Covid is no big deal
Crime
crisis actor
Critical Race Theory
Cry more, lib
Democrats are Satanic
Drain the SwampRather than rid Washington of its layers of corrupt supplicants as he had promised on the campaign trail, he invited all of his cronies in to benefit from the greatest expansion of corrupt graft under any President we know of thus far.
Economic superiority
Election integrityVoter suppression
elites should rule others
Elite resentment
Enemy of the people
Flawed savior
Free speech
Freedom of religion
George SorosHungarian billionaire whose liberal politics irritate Vladimir Putin.
Government is the enemyThe Reagan-flavored twist on drowning government in the bathtub
Government spendingBlack and white thinking: "all govt spending is bad" (except military)
Great Man theory
Guantanamo Bay
Heroic redeemerThis singular leader who saves the nation has a mystical connection with his people and takes the nation out of all time
HollywoodPart of an "excuse framework" to ignore or dismiss something, by smearing it with vague "Hollywoodness." A cue to tune out and discredit the source. Prominent in the Qanon ideology.
Identity politicsThe right are the ones who often insist on identity politics...
Insults
Jim Crow
Job creatorsRepublicans claim their system of trickle down economics produces jobs and growth, but it inhibits both as compared to a less extreme approach.
Kyle Rittenhouse deification
Law and order"White people should fear Black people, and support other white people who fear Black people (or brown, or women, or gays, or trans, or immigrants, whatever is the hatred du jour)"
Leftist apocalypse
LiberalsIt's like Russia recycled the Greatest Hits of Cold War Lingo and piped it in through every orifice starting (at least) during the 2016 election cycle.
Lost CauseAn American mythology manufactured after the Civil War by the Confederates, to soothe their wounds from the loss and whitewash the role of slavery in fomenting their sedition. In the Reconstruction era and beyond, the retcon held that "states' rights" had animated the southern states to secede from the union when in fact, the bitter contest had been inarguably about whether or not the peculiar institution was to continue in the new nation.
MAGA
Marxism
minority rule
Mueller Report
MuzzledSaying "I'm muzzled!" means "I can't talk openly about how much I hate certain types of people!"
National debtSuddenly out of nowhere (aka, when a Democrat comes to town), the national debt is a pressing problem.
Nostalgiathe role of nostalgia in fascist politics is to harness people's strong emotions to the central tenets of the ideology:* authoritarianism* hierarchy* purity* struggle
Personal responsibility
Poll taxes
Pro-life
QAnon
Racism"We're not racists and it's racist to call us racist, you racist."
Reaganomics
Refuse to recognize the legitimacy of one's opponentQuestion the use of legitimate authority for spurious or unsubstantiated allegations, to create the appearance of impropriety even if there is none.
Religious freedom
Run the country like a business
Sadism
silent majorityLoudly extremist minority
small government1) Grab resources 2) Privatize government functions 3) Cheat 4) Crime
Social Justice Warriors
SocialismAnything Democrats do or want to do is socialist and/or communist
States' rightsA dog whistle for first whitewashing the reasons for the Civil War, and later to rationalize defense of segregation
The Big Lie
The Civil War wasn't about slavery
The New Deal was bad for America
The Swamp...corruption?!
Trickle down economics
Trump "says it like it is"They mean that he agrees with them about saying the racist, sexist, or X-ist quiet parts out loud
Uberman
Venezuelaa dog whistle for socialism
Voting is a privilege, not a right
War on Christmas
Warmongers
Welfare queens
WMDs
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who owns twitter elon musk and others

On October 27, 2022, the world’s richest man bought the de facto global town square. Elon Musk‘s purchase of Twitter had been brewing since April when the South African-born tech magnate first offered (or threatened?) to take over the struggling social network to the tune of $44 billion.

He later tried to reneg on the deal, or at least made a big public show of trying to back out of it during the summer of 2022, claiming that Twitter had falsely represented the percentage of bot accounts on the platform. Company executives filed suit to force Musk to agree to the share price in his original offer — despite significant stock price losses due largely to Musk’s own disparagement of the site.

Forced to go through with the deal despite admittedly “overpaying for Twitter right now,” Musk and his set of investor backers took the company private and began an uncertain new era for the heretofore arguably closest thing to a public town square in all of history, with the Tesla and SpaceX entrepreneur at the helm. A self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” the billionaire immediately began pronouncing ideas wildly unpopular with its power user base of journalists, academics, and public professionals of all stripes, including:

Who actually owns Twitter now?

Amidst the chaos of Musk’s first weeks of ownership, many inside and outside of Twitter have speculated on the potential ulterior motives of the tech oligarch’s purchase. Theories range from intentional sabotage to gross incompetence — or potentially some mixture of the two. There is widespread disparagement of the idea that a billionaire can simply step in and upend what passed for a fledgling tool of democratic influence, and a bulwark against the march of right-wing authoritarianism around the world.

But who actually owns Twitter, outside of Musk himself? Perhaps the laundry list of investors can now or in the future shed some light on probable strategies behind the massive shakeup at one of the world’s most popular tools for the media-industrial class. Given the company’s privatization, it is now far less transparent about its financials — and it will be difficult to know at any moment in time if given investors have come in or out, or increased or decreased their holdings via their relationships with Musk or intermediaries.

As it stands though, this is the list of Twitter backers I have so far been able to find. Do you know of others I’ve missed, or changes to relative holdings? Please do give me a shout over — where else — on Twitter (while it stands — else on Mastodon) and let me know!

Twitter owners list

  • The number one primary owner is Elon Musk himself, who already owned 9.6% in shares of the company before taking it over. During the sale he put in $27 billion in cash from his own fortune, liquidated by selling shares of his Tesla stock
  • Original co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey owned 2.4% in shares and kept them, for about a $1B stake
  • Larry Ellison of Oracle — $1B
  • Qatar Holding, part of the Qatar sovereign wealth fund (Qatar Investment Authority)
  • Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia — transferred 35 million shares to Musk (about $1.9B according to Dave Troy)
  • Binance cryptocurrency exchange — $500M
  • $13B in bank loans from:
    • Morgan Stanley — $3.5B
    • Bank of America
    • Barclays
    • Japanese banks
      • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
      • Mizuho
    • French banks
      • Societe Generale
      • BNP Paribas
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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 cults

  1. The Wealth Cult — led by Charles Koch and a collection of dark money groups including Leonard Leo’s Federalist Society and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
  2. The Christian Nationalist Cult — led by 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
  3. The White Nationalist Cult — 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).

Continue reading The GOP is 3 Cults in a Trenchcoat
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The American Founders, by me and Midjourney

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.

Continue reading The Founders were agile
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Great Replacement Theory is a conspiracy theory animating the radical right wing that claims non-white immigrants are being brought to the U.S. and the west to “replace” white voters with their woke political and cultural agenda. Those who believe this white supremacist ideology see routine immigration policy as a white genocide and extinction of the white race. They also point to low birth rates among white europeans and the promotion of multiculturalism, or “wokeness,” as responsible for the alleged effects.

Promoters of this derivative of Nazi ideology (the claim is that Jews are responsible for this immigration plot) claim that the United States must close its borders immediately to immigration. Many advocate isolationism (“America First!”), white nationalism (and/or forms of nationalism more broadly), and claim that violence may be necessary to keep America under the control of white men.

History of Great Replacement Theory

The term “Great Replacement” was popularized by French writer Renaud Camus in his 2011 book “Le Grand Remplacement.” According to Camus, the alleged replacement is a result of the European elites intentionally allowing mass immigration and promoting multiculturalism to undermine national identity and traditional Western culture.

The Great Replacement Theory has been widely discredited and criticized by experts, as it is based on misinformation, selective data, and biased interpretations. It is important to note that this theory often fuels xenophobia, bigotry, racism, and anti-immigrant sentiments, and has been linked to a number of far-right extremist attacks worldwide.

Demographic changes in Western countries are driven by a complex interplay of factors such as economic migration, political instability, globalization, and changing birth rates. These factors are not part of any orchestrated plot, but rather reflect broader social, economic, and political trends. Unfortunately, it’s in the interest of the right-wing to keep its rabid base riled up — and the Great Replacement Theory conspiracy is an effective tool for generating anger and injecting vitriol into the broader political discourse.

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I’ve been reading John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” and am reminded of the quintessential liberal definition of the term:

The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
(emphasis mine)

It seems to me that Libertarian proponents tend to make a systematic error in portraying liberty as only commensurate with the first part of Mill’s description: essentially interpreting it as, “I should be able to do whatever I want, and have no constraints placed upon my person by the government whatsoever.” The idea of “cancel culture” is a reflection of this ideal, whereby the right wing complains that moral constraints that apply to everyone should not apply to them.

This mentality misses completely the essential boundary established by the second part of Mill’s quote: that doing what one wants has limits attached, and that those limits are a proscription on engaging in activities which either harm others, or deprive others of their own rights in pursuit of liberty. An essential part of the social contract, the concern for others’ rights naturally stems from concern for your own — as the collective will bands together to guarantee our rights in common, everyone has a stake in preserving the system.

Harm

Being fixated with avoiding taxation, the Libertarian will proclaim that the government is coercing him out of his hard-earned monies — but this fails to recognize the real harm being done to the lower classes by the deprivation of funds to support the basic level of public goods required to preserve life at a subsistence level as well as social mobility: the essence of the American dream.

In short, Libertarian dogma tends to be singularly focused on the self-interest of the upper classes without any attendant regard to the rights of others that may be trampled on by either class oppression or the capturing and consolidation of political power in the hands of the wealthy. It fails systematically to recognize the perspective of the “other side,” i.e. those who are harmed by the enactment of the Libertarian ideology — much as a narcissist lacks empathy — and with it, the capability of seeing others’ perspectives. You could in some ways consider it yet another form of denialism, as well as a cousin or perhaps even sibling to authoritarianism.

The Libertarian narcissist Venn Diagram is practically a circle.

Libertarianism sees itself in control

It believes its ideology should dominate others despite its extreme minority status. The Libertarian narcissist wants to get the benefits of the social contract and civil society, without having to pay back into the system in proportion to their usage of public resources at scale. The Libertarian political philosophy violates the fundamental, cross-cultural principle of reciprocity — exhibited in societies through the ages.

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oligarchs in the 19th century

Some people like to argue that more economic inequality is a good thing, because it is a “natural” byproduct of capitalism in a world of “makers and takers,” “winners and losers,” “wolves and sheep,” [insert your favorite Manichaean metaphor here]. However, too much inequality is deleterious for both economics and politics — for with oligarchy comes the creep of fascism.

Those who amass exorbitant wealth often increasingly use a portion of their gains to capture politics. While the mythological premise of trickle-down economics is that we must not have progressive taxation, because giving more money to the already wealthy is the only way to spur economic investment and innovation and create jobs — in actual fact the majority of tax cut windfalls go to stock buybacks, offshore tax havens, regulatory capture, political lobbying, and campaign donations in the form of dark money (and regular money). All this is a runaway amplifying feedback loop that tilts the playing field further away from equal opportunity, social mobility, and democratic process — the original American Dream.

In the oligarchy, your vote doesn’t matter

Wealthy elites seek to preserve the power structures that have benefitted them, and keep them (and their descendants) in the ruling class. It is a slow recreation of the aristocratic societies of old Europe that we fought a bloody war of independence to separate ourselves from. Yet the erosion of civil values, public engagement, and collective will — largely as fomented by the conservative elite over the past 50 years in America — and the ascendancy of the myth of “rugged individualism” have conspired to create a perilous condition in which corruption operates so openly in today’s White House [2018] and Wall Street that democracy itself is in great danger. The creep of fascism is felt in the fell winds that blow.

Moreover, we have learned these lessons once, not quite a century ago, yet have forgotten them:

“Where there is a crisis, the ruling classes take refuge in fascism as a safeguard against the revolution of the proletariat… The bourgeoisie rules through demagoguery, which in practice means that prominent positions are filled by irresponsible people who commit follies in moments of decision.”

— Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind
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