Democracy

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 are as follows:

  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)
  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.

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 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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Ask not what your country can do for you, y’all.

Pick up the phone, or the pen, or via whatever channel moves you — but We The People have a key part to play in preserving democracy for the next generations. Voting is essential — but can you do more??

Most activist groups have had to adjust to political organizing completely online during the pandemic, so it is exceedingly easy now to parachute in to a group and get involved right away, whether that’s on the phone talking to voters or prospective voters, or texting potential voters, or other forms of organizing or messaging. All you really need is an internet connection and ideally a laptop and a phone — but you can get by with a tablet and a phone or even just a phone for certain volunteering campaigns.

2022 Mid-Terms Update: Quick Links

Have cycles to give on election day? Here are your best bets to dive in quickly:

1) Get trained: Moderated phone banks

The DNC is holding trainings with helpful phone banking guides every 2 hours on Tuesday, November 8 — πŸ‘‰πŸ½ SIGN UP HERE πŸ‘ˆπŸ½

2) Parachute in: Anytime calls

If you’ve been trained on the Scale To Win dialer the DNC uses, anytime since May 2022, you can hop right in and make calls at your convenience: access πŸ‘‰πŸ½ ANYTIME CALLS HERE πŸ‘ˆπŸ½

DNC Links

Have you volunteered or organized before and just want a good place to plug back in? Or just want to get your feet wet volunteering for the national team at the DNC without further ado? Here’s where to go to sign up and/or get training depending on what activity you’re interested in:

How to volunteer: Getting started

If you’re new to political volunteering, don’t worry! Most groups have some sort of training session to get you started, whether you’ve been an activist for a long time or just getting involved. This Zoom or other video session will orient you to the tools of the group and what the general strategy is, as well as the specific instructions for the day’s campaign. The training moderators are usually exceedingly patient and open to all kinds of questions, none too small. They will usually offer additional assistance to get anyone up to speed who needs it, and take pains to get everyone comfortable with both the technologies in use and how to actually interact with a voter or volunteer around the issue(s) at hand.

There are groups out there organizing at all kinds of levels: national, state, local, individual campaigns, coalitions / communities, interest groups, non-profits, civic organizations, and groups of all types doing political organizing who can almost always use volunteers. Read on for a list of orgs I trust and have volunteered with in the past listed at the end of this post.

Types of Volunteering Activities

There’s really something for everyone when it comes to political volunteering — if you love talking with people there’s phone banking and canvassing; if you are more of a wordsmith there’s letter writing and postcard sending; if you’re on the tech savvy spectrum there’s text banking and social media sharing; and if you love hosting events there are friend banks, fundraisers, and all kinds of community hosting opportunities with support from the organization you’re working with. Here’s a quick shortlist of common types of political volunteering:

  • Canvassing — This is the “classic” method of going door to door in a candidate’s district or state and talking to prospective voters about the candidate, party, or issue at hand. During covid most organizations fell back to phone banking and the other methods below on this list, but this will likely return in at least some jurisdictions for the ’22 midterms.
  • Phone banking — Use automated dialer software to mask your own phone number and call voters (or sometimes volunteers) in specific states or nationwide. Typically you will be asking them to take some sort of action, like registering to vote, voting for a specific candidate, writing or calling an elected official, etc.
  • Text banking — Use automated texting software to send out batches of text messages and respond to recipients who reply. This activity is great for folks who hate talking on the phone, or want to engage in one of the newest, most cutting edge technologies in use for direct voter contact. Texting has quickly grown in prominence within organizing and political activism circles since 2016.
  • Letter writing — Handwrite and/or print batches or series of letters or postcards to voters and prospective voters.
  • Social ambassador — New to the DNC’s volunteer options in 2022, the social ambassador program provides a series of assets and messaging prompts for ambassadors to share with their social media networks through the new app Greenfly.
  • Friend banking — In addition to joining phone banks organized by the DNC, Field Team 6, or other activist groups, you can learn to host your own events with your own friends either in person or online. Training materials, sessions, and toolkits are available from various organizations including frameworks for running events and help promoting hosted events.

Communications

Pretty much all groups will use group messaging tool Slack or some other form of chat to coordinate in real-time, as well as answer any questions you may have or address problems you run into. It can be chaotic and fast-moving in there for big campaigns, so give yourself some extra time to get oriented especially if you’re new to Slack.

Most groups will also use email to coordinate with you as well as potentially texting for recruitment and reminders of shifts you’ve signed up for, or to take action on various things. It’s common for them to use Google Docs or other shared document space to offer toolkits, documentation, training materials, and so on that you can access and review later as need be.

Operations

When phone banking, generally you will have a script that you can read from and/or riff from, and it gets easier to get through the script as you make more calls and get familiar with the flow. It can feel intimidating sometimes to do “cold calling” but often you will be calling “friendlies” — either known Democrats or likely Ds — though even in those voter lists you may run into the occasional Trumpian. It can be unpleasant from time to time but usually they just want to get off the phone as fast as you do and the interaction is brief.

The purpose of your calls is both to gather fresh data for the Democratic data and analytics operation to understand what state voters are in (likely to vote, lean D, will/won’t volunteer, etc.) as well as to try and persuade voters to take action, whether that’s registering to vote in the first place, voting for the D candidate(s), or physically casting their ballot.

For text banking, you’ll usually be working from a script as well, and have a number of available pre-written responses to choose from based on the responses you get back from people. The organization will get you set up with an account for the texting software they’ll be using and train you in how to send texts — this is typically done from your desktop, and not actually from your phone, so even if you are going to a “texting” shift you’ll generally want to be joining that session from a computer.

Is text banking as good as phone banking?

No, texting is not quite as effective at persuading voters as other methods of direct voter contact. The direct connection of actually speaking with a voter in real-time still rules the roost in terms of mobilization. However, text banking has the potential to reach parts of the electorate that simply aren’t going to pick up when a strange number calls them, or who otherwise will only respond via the SMS channel. It’s a way of engaging those folks, many of them skewing younger and more progressive overall as a group, so text banking is still a valuable and emerging tool in the toolkit.

Text banking is also very effective at mobilizing highly engaged groups like volunteers to commit to another volunteer shift, or donors to donate. So it won’t be going anywhere any time soon — but if you’re wondering how to volunteer most effectively, I would personally choose phone banking as the primary exercise (and canvassing as more effective even still — if we ever get out of covid round the rosie!).

Volunteer Training & Resources

More Places to Take Action

DNC National Call Team

If you’ve done phone banking before, it’s especially easy to parachute in to whatever is the current top priority for the Democrats. And if you are just getting started for the first time, they’ll train you at the top of each phone bank shift. Here’s the current schedule for DNC calling, as of October 28, 2022:

ZOOM PHONE BANKS (get trained + make calls):
Shifts are now daily or multiple times daily, through election day on November 7.

Sign Up: https://txt.democrats.org/ZPB

GET TRAINED:
Tues/Wed/Thurs/Fri 2-8pm ET (11am – 5pm PT)

If you haven’t been trained by the DNC Call Crew and/or are new to phone banking altogether, they offer more in-depth training opportunities frequently. If you’ve done phone banking elsewhere and feel comfortable getting up to speed quickly, join one of the Zoom Phone Banks listed above that offers a short “get up to speed” training session at the beginning of each call session.

Sign Up for a beginner training: https://events.democrats.org/event/440875/

More DNC Volunteer Training Links

DNC Texting Team
DNC Social Ambassadors Program
DNC Friend Banking Training
DNC Toolkit Training & Event Organizing

Anytime Letter Writing

Vote Forward has numerous campaigns ongoing if letter writing is your thing.

Postcards to Voters is another great option for writers — just be aware that time is running down and early voting has already begun in many places! So please consider phone banking as a priority alternative if you are able to contribute time during these 2022 mid-terms.

More Awesome Places to Volunteer

State Party Volunteer Operations

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Hate speech is a way of dominating & monopolizing the conversation:

  • It removes the possibility of polite, congenial dialogue.
  • No productive discussion can happen until it is removed, b/c one party is only pretending to be there for dialog but is only there for broadcasting.

Hate speech is a weapon being used to shut down political discourse — under the guise of promoting it.

It’s a kind of false flag operation — a strategy of war disguising itself as “legitimate political discourse.”
Putin and the American right-wing are using the exact same tactics — and this is no accident. It’s not a coincidence Elonely Muskrat is carrying water for Russian dictators and oligarchs — the right-wing as an ideological movement is now global.

It’s also no accident this whole Twitter takeover drama is happening just before the mid-terms. The right-wing needs to inject some juice into the splintering base, some of whom are wavering as the actual (intentionally) obscured vision of the GOP leaks out (i.e. destroy government altogether).

Continue reading GOTV: Elonely Muskrat hate speech edition
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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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Many people around the world were shocked in the aftermath of World War II. How could “polite” society break down so utterly, so swiftly, and so zealously? Why did the authoritarian personality come to dominate human affairs, seemingly out of nowhere? How thin is this veneer of civilization, really?

The authoritarian personality is characterized by excessive strictness and a propensity to exhibit oppressive behavior towards perceived subordinates. On the flip side, they treat authority figures with mindless obedience and unquestioning compliance. How did they get this way? Are people born with authoritarian personalities, or is the authoritarian “made” predominately by circumstance?

A braintrust of scholars, public servants, authors, psychologists, and others have been analyzing these questions ever since. Some of the most prominent thinkers on the subject of authoritarianism were either themselves affected by the Nazi regime, or lived through the war in some capacity. Other more recent contributions have built on those original foundations, refining and extending them as more new history continues to unfold with right-wing behavior to observe.

Continue reading Essential thinkers on authoritarian personality theory
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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.

QAnon flag epitomizes modern-day conspiracy theories
Image credit: Anthony Crider

A large body of psychological research has shown that there are some deep cognitive reasons that conspiracy theories tend to resonate with us, and especially in particular types of people, or people in certain types of circumstances.

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.

Continue reading Why do people believe conspiracy theories?
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Freedom is freedom from the fear of death.

Freedom is freedom from fearing you’ll be gunned down at school.

Freedom is freedom from fear your kids won’t come home from school.

Freedom is freedom from fear of going to the grocery store.

Freedom is freedom from senseless violence.

Freedom is freedom from murderous rampages replayed night after night.

Freedom is freedom from domestic warfare.

Freedom is freedom from weapons of warfare in our communities, in our churches, in our schools, in our stores, on our playing fields, on our streets.

Freedom is freedom from injustice.

Freedom is freedom from inaction.

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Some of us have been boning up on this topic for about 6 years already, while others are just tuning in now based on the horrors of recent events. It can be overwhelming to come in cold, so here — don’t go it alone! Take this:

Putin’s war against the west

President Biden “declassified” an intelligence analysis many of us had arrived at some time ago: Russian president Vladimir Putin is a cruel revanchist leader who will stop at nothing to claw out a larger legacy before he dies. His goal is nothing less than reconstituting the former Soviet Union and restoring the “glory” of the Russian empire of yesteryear. And for some reason he thinks the world community is going to let him get away with his delusional fever dreams of conquest — as if fever dreams of Mongol domination are still de rigueur.

The attacks on the 2016 election and on the American Capitol in 2021 are related — both are Russian hybrid warfare operations. Russia also is the cold beating heart of the right-wing authoritarianism movement around the world, via financial, political, psychological, economic, and other means of government and regulatory capture.

Putin has hated democracy for a long time — since before the Berlin Wall fell where he was stationed in East Berlin as a young KGB agent, taking the news hard. Now, he has many fifth column confederates aiding and abetting him from within the United States — a number of them brazenly, and openly. It is getting harder and harder for those treasonous types to “hide out” in the folds of disinformation, misinformation, and plausible deniability. The play is being called — and everyone will need to decide if they’re for democracy or authoritarianism.

Further reading:

Media Resources

Twitter Lists

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How to detect fake from real

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.

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We need to know what our opponents are up to. There is much to learn.

Much more to come — stay tuned!

BehaviorTypeDefinition
ad baculumrhetoricalAppeal to violence
ad hominemrhetoricalAttack the person instead of their ideas.
aggressiontacticalIssue threats and/or violate boundaries.
argumentum ad passionesemotional"I feel it (or I feel *strongly* about it), therefore it must be true."
assaulttactical
Assert the opposite of realityrhetoricalSimply state the opposite of what is true
banning bookslegislativeBook 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 peoplepathologicalRelated to supremacy and collective narcissism, this worldview is one of extreme entitlement and expected deference.
Black & white thinkingcognitiveA 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.
Blame Democratsrhetorical"I'm not responsible for my bad behaviors: DEMOCRATS ARE!"
bullyingemotionalIntimidating, harming, or coercing -- usually of someone who is perceived as vulnerable.
charismaemotionalCloying, often superficial or fake charm
charmemotionalCompelling attractiveness that fascinates, allures, or delights
closed mindcognitivenot open to an argument from facts
Cognitive dissonancecognitiveHaving 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.
cognitive distortion
Communicate by emotional contagionbehavior
Communication is difficult or impossiblebehavior
confusion
Consistent inconsistency
conspiracy theories
contempt
counterattack
Creating unnecessary chaosemotionalCreate conflict to get attention and get a chance to get what you want.
Crocodile tearsemotional
DARVOtactical
Deception
demagogueryemotionalSeeks support through an appeal to desires and prejudices of voters instead of rational arguments.
Demand mirroring of their emotionsbehavior
Denying plain facts
Diverting attention
Do not perform emotional workbehavior
emotional abuse
Emotional manipulationemotional
Envious of others and believes others are enviouspathological
Exaggerating one's achievements and talentspathological
Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectationspathological
extortion
fears changeweakness
fears differenceweakness
flying monkeys
fraud
frivolous lawsuits
GaslightingCause 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-importancepathological
grandiosity
grooming
Hard to give to; reject efforts to give helpbehavior
high need for closurePrefers to resolve situations quickly and reduce uncertainty as immediately as possible
hypocrisyConsistently fail to live up to their own stated ideals, and the things they demand of others.
idealize, devalue, discardThe narcissistic abuse cycle
Interpsonally exploitative; takes advantage of otherspathological
irrational anger
Lacks empathy; unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of otherspathological
lawsuits
Love to play victim and heroemotionalThey 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.
Lying
Malignant envy
Masters of deceptive and misleading storiesrhetorical
Mind gamesemotional
Motivated ReasoningcognitiveThey start with the premise they want and work from there -- they are bad scientists, but good lawyers.
Moving the goalpoststactical
narcissistic rage
narcissistic supply
One-way streetExpect loyalty from you while offering none in return
oppression
panem et circuses
ParanoiaemotionalNurturing and maintaining enemies
Passive-aggressionemotional
PerjurylegalLying under oath, in court or in a deposition
PhobicemotionalTheir main aspect is fear, from bouts of phobia indoctrination
Play the victimemotional
Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited successpathological
ProjectioncognitiveAccusing your opponent of doing the thing that you yourself are doing.
Provoking angerbehavior
repression
Requires excessive admirationpathological
Resist repairing relationshipsbehavior
retconning
rewriting history
rigidity
sadismemotional
scapegoatingtacticalJust blame Democrats, no matter how absurd
secrecyCovert actions; lack of transparency
See roles as sacred and inviolablebehavior
Seek enmeshment, not emotional intimacybehavior
Selective Exposure
self-aggrandizementemotional
Sense of entitlement; expects others to make unreasonable sacrificespathological
shameemotional
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudespathological
SplittingcognitiveSee the world as with them or against them (splitting)
stonewalling
stubbornness
supremacyemotional
Take a thing and turn it into its moral oppositeLabel a good thing bad so you can smear it, or a bad thing good so you can support it
tergiversateto evade; speak circularly
Their self-esteem relies on your compliancebehavior
threats
tyranny
verbal defensiveness
weasel wordsleveraged ambiguity
whataboutism
whitewashing
Word gamestacticalWords are used primarily as weapons
Word saladcognitive
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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.

Here’s the cult leader playbook:

  1. Position himself (and the group β€” his extension) as the only safe haven to turn to when afraid: “I alone can fix it!”
  2. Isolate followers from other sources of information — i.e. keep them in the Fox/OANN/Newsmax ecosystem
  3. 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 β€” highly self-absorbed, they demand excessive admiration and slavish devotion to their whims.
  • Charismatic β€” they have a way of grabbing attention, whether positive or negative.
  • Unpredictable β€” erratic behavior keeps enemies on their toes and fans β€œon edge” with desire to please Dear Leader.
  • Insatiable drive β€” 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 β€” they have no shame and will demand things a decent human being would not.

…remind you of anyone in particular?!

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President Biden and Vice President Harris commemorated the 1 year anniversary of the January 6 attack on our democracy with morning speeches and a day of remembrance inside the Capitol rotunda with Representatives and Senators giving a number of moving speeches in their respective chambers. The tone on TV news and blue check Twitter was somber and reflective. The President referred to the violent events of Jan 6, 2021 as a terrorist attack on our democracy, and said that the threat was not yet over — that the perpetrators of that event still hold a “dagger at the throat of America.”

Only two Republicans were present in chambers when the moment of silence was held for the nation’s traumatic experience one year ago — Representative Liz Cheney and her father, Dick Cheney, the former VP and evil villain of the George W. Bush years. That this man — a cartoonish devil from my formative years as a young activist — was, along with his steel-spined force of nature daughter, one half of the lone pair that remained of the pathetic tatters of the once great party of Lincoln.

What do you do if you’re in a 2-party system and one of the parties is just sitting on the sidelines, heckling (and worse!?)? How do you restore confidence in a system that so many people love to hate, to the point of obsession? Will we be able to re-establish a sense of fair play, as Biden called on us to do today in his speech?

The Big Lie is about rewriting history

We don’t need to spend a ton of time peering deeply into discerning motive with seditionists — we can instead understand that for all of them, serving the Big Lie serves a function for them in their lives. It binds them to their tribe, it signals a piece of their “identity,” and it signals loyalty within a tight hierarchy that rewards it — all while managing to serve their highest goal of all: to annoy and intimidate liberals. Like all bullies, their primary animating drive is a self-righteous conviction that “I am RIGHT!” at all times and about all things, and that disagreement is largely punishable by death or, in lieu of that, dark twisted fantasies of death passed off lamely and pathetically as “just joking, coworker!”

Continue reading January 6 Attack: A “dagger at the throat of America”
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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.

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Research has shown that emotional repression causes authoritarianism (Altemeyer, Adorno, Stenner et al). Fundamentalist religious groups favor the most repression, culturally — ergo, fundamentalist groups are at the highest risk for nurturing authoritarian traits.

Emotional repression is the keystone of fundamentalist parenting. The strict application of “Biblical law” as cherry-picked by extremists is inherently contradictory & hypocritical, stunting emotional and psychological growth through corporal punishment and capricious applications of anger for sometimes opaque reasons.

When trusted caregivers apply physical violence to a developing mind, seeds of deep distrust and paranoia are planted. Children learn to “obey” by repressing negative parts of themselves so deeply they fall out of conscious awareness altogether & rule the personality “from below.”

The abused child learns “splitting” as a psychological defense mechanism, which later in adulthood is considered a “superpower” — they present a saccharine but False Self in their outer aspect to the tribe, and sequester negative id impulses deep down into an “inner sociopath.”

Repression creates divided minds

Never being given the required emotional support to transcend the paradoxical human project of reconciling the positive & negative aspects inherent in all people, they become “arrested” at a moment of obsession with punishment as the only solution to every problem. They see the world in very black and white terms — the classic “you’re either with us or against us” zero-sum worldview in which everybody who doesn’t agree with you must be delegitimized and eradicated completely.

Continue reading Repression causes authoritarianism
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