Wealth vs. Government

The GOP is 3 cults in a trench coat

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

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

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

The 3 Republican cult factions

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

The Wealth Cult

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

The Wealth Cult, by Midjourney
Continue reading The GOP is 3 Cults in a Trenchcoat
Read more

Wealth Cult -- rich men behaving badly, by Midjourney

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

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

And, it is dark indeed.

Wealth cult anchors the trench coat

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

Its story is stealthy and significant.

A bunch of billionaires toast themselves to themselves, by Midjourney

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

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

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

Continue reading Wealth Cult: The oligarchs influencing American politics from the shadows
Read more

Christian nationalism, a complex and multifaceted ideology, intersects the realms of faith, politics, and cultural identity. At its core, it seeks to fuse Christian and national identities, advocating for policies and governance that reflect a particular interpretation of Christian values as foundational to the national identity and public life.

This movement is not monolithic; it varies widely in its manifestations and intensity, ranging from a general preference for a Christian cultural ambiance to more extreme calls for the implementation of laws that strictly adhere to certain Christian doctrines. Despite its name, Christian nationalism is less about religious faith per se and more about leveraging religious identity as a marker of belonging and legitimacy within the national narrative and overall political power structure of the United States and elsewhere.

False claims of national origin

The Christian nationalists of America today present a false narrative surrounding the origin story of the United States as part of their fundamental claim to power. Contrary to their claims of America as a Christian nation, the Framers of the Constitution took great pains to separate religious authority from democratic governance — having seen the deleterious effects of state imposed religion by the Church of England. In fact, one of the primary reasons many original American colonists left their native homeland was to flee the mandates of the church and seek the religious freedom to worship in their own ways, whether Puritanism, Lutheranism, or other Protestant sect.

Part of a broader pattern of right-wing Big Lies, the idea that the Founders intended anything other than a strong separation of church and state belongs in the realm of propaganda, not in the realm of truth. Moreover, Jesus himself seemed to be quite allergic to the desire for accumulating political power — famously saying, “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” in Matthew 22:21. The imposition of Christian nationalism in America would destroy the very religious freedom the United States was actually founded upon.

Jesus in the template of the money-changers, by Midjourney

Dictionary of Christian nationalism terms

We will continue to update this dictionary of terms relating to Christian nationalism as the ideology evolves in American politics. For additional reading, check out our collection of books about Christian nationalism.

  • 10 Commandments — The 10 Commandments are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. They include directives on worship, morality, and human relationships, as outlined in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy in the Bible.
  • acolytes — Acolytes are individuals who assist in religious ceremonies, particularly in Christian liturgical traditions, performing duties such as carrying processional crosses, lighting candles, and assisting with preparations for communion. Their role is to support the clergy and enhance the ceremonial aspects of worship.
  • affirmative action — Affirmative action refers to policies and measures designed to increase opportunities for underrepresented groups in areas such as education and employment, aiming to redress historical injustices and discrimination. It seeks to promote equality by considering factors like race, gender, or ethnicity in decision-making processes.
  • American exceptionalism — American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is inherently different from other nations, often due to its unique historical evolution, democratic institutions, and national ethos. This concept suggests that America has a special role to play in human history and global affairs.
  • apostles — the primary disciples of Jesus Christ in Christianity, chosen by Him to spread His teachings. The term traditionally refers to the Twelve Apostles in the New Testament, who were sent out to proclaim the message of Jesus across the world.
  • apostates — individuals who renounce or abandon their faith or religious beliefs. This term is often used in a religious context to describe someone who has turned away from the religious faith they once professed.
  • baptism — a Christian sacrament of initiation and purification, symbolizing the believer’s spiritual cleansing, rebirth, and admission into the Christian community. It is typically performed by sprinkling water on the head or by immersion, signifying the washing away of sins and the individual’s commitment to follow Jesus Christ.
  • Biblical values — the moral and ethical principles derived from the teachings and narratives found in the Bible. These values include love, justice, compassion, humility, and integrity, guiding the behavior and decision-making of believers.
  • Biblical worldview — a way of understanding and interpreting the world from the perspective of biblical teachings, seeing all aspects of life through the lens of Scripture. It encompasses beliefs about God, morality, human nature, and the purpose of life, influencing how individuals perceive and interact with the world around them.
  • 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 — a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. It emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the doctrine of predestination, and the total depravity of humans, among other key points.
  • 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€ — refers to the practice of journalism within a Christian framework, emphasizing reporting, analysis, and commentary that align with Christian values and perspectives. It aims to provide news and insights on various issues, including moral, ethical, and social matters, from a Christian viewpoint.
  • Christian Reconstructionism — Christian Reconstructionism is a theological movement within conservative Calvinist Christianity, advocating for the application of a particular interpretation of biblical law to all areas of life, including civil governance. It promotes the idea that society should be reconstructed along biblical lines, with a significant emphasis on the Old Testament’s legal codes.
  • 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.
a Vision of American exceptionalism: the Statue of Liberty. by Midjourney
  • clergy — individuals who are ordained for religious duties in Christian and other religious traditions. They perform various spiritual functions, including leading worship services, performing sacraments, and providing pastoral care to the congregation.
  • communion — Communion, also known as the Eucharist in some Christian denominations, is a sacrament that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with His disciples. It involves the partaking of bread and wine (or grape juice) as symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, signifying participation in the divine grace.
  • 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 — In a religious context, conversions refer to the process by which an individual adopts a new religious belief, often resulting in a change of affiliation from one religion to another. It typically involves a personal experience of transformation and acceptance of the new faith’s tenets.
  • 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” — The term “defense of marriage” often refers to political and social efforts to uphold the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It is frequently used in debates over the legal recognition of same-sex marriages and related legal and policy issues.
  • demons — In Christian theology, demons are considered malevolent spiritual beings opposed to God and humanity. They are often associated with temptation, possession, and various forms of evil, and are believed to be fallen angels led by Satan.
  • End Times — The End Times, also known as the eschaton in theological terms, refer to a future period described in biblical prophecy where world events reach a final climax, leading to the return of Jesus Christ, the final judgment, and the establishment of God’s kingdom. Different Christian traditions have various interpretations of the signs, events, and timing related to the End Times.
The End Times; armageddon. By Midjourney
  • 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 — a colloquial term often used to describe the central regions of the United States perceived as less significant or overlooked by coastal elites. It implies a region primarily flown over by air travelers from one coast to the other, with the insinuation that these areas are less culturally or politically important.
  • fundamentalism — originally referred to a movement within American Protestantism that emerged in the early 20th century, emphasizing a literal interpretation of the Bible and adherence to its fundamental doctrines. The term has since broadened to describe any religious movement across various faiths that holds to strict adherence to foundational principles and often rejects modernism.
  • The Golden Rule — treat others how you wish to be treated; Jesus referred to this teaching as his “Greatest Commandment”
  • The Great Awakening — a series of religious revivals that swept through the American colonies in the 18th century, marked by a renewed enthusiasm for religious experience, personal piety, and evangelism. It significantly influenced American Protestantism and the country’s social and cultural landscape.
  • groupthink — a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people when the desire for harmony or conformity results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. It is characterized by the suppression of dissenting viewpoints, leading to a lack of critical evaluation of decisions.
  • 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 — considered the third person of the Trinity in Christian theology, alongside God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ). The Holy Spirit is believed to be the presence of God active in the world, guiding, inspiring, and empowering believers, and playing a central role in their spiritual life and growth.
Holy ghost; holy spirit. By Midjourney
  • homeschooling — an educational approach where parents choose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to traditional public or private schools. This method allows for a personalized education, often tailored to the child’s learning pace, interests, and values, and can include various educational philosophies and curricula.
  • hypocrisy — the act of pretending to hold beliefs, attitudes, virtues, or feelings that one does not actually possess. It is often highlighted in moral and religious discussions as a vice, where an individual’s actions contradict their professed values, demonstrating a lack of integrity or moral consistency.
  • i360Charles 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 — The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, enacted in 1954, that prohibits nonprofit organizations, including churches and other religious organizations, from endorsing or opposing political candidates. It aims to maintain the separation of church and state by restricting the political involvement of tax-exempt entities.
  • Kingdom action — “Kingdom action” refers to activities or initiatives undertaken by Christians to advance the kingdom of God on Earth, in alignment with the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. This can include evangelism, social justice efforts, charitable works, and other forms of ministry aimed at reflecting God’s love and righteousness in the world.
  • 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 — “Love thy neighbor” is a fundamental ethical injunction in many religious traditions, emphasizing the importance of treating others with kindness, compassion, and respect, akin to one’s self. In Christianity, it is second only to loving God and is central to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Love thy neighbor, by Midjourney
  • “moral decay” — a term often used to describe a perceived decline in the ethical standards, values, and behavior of a society, suggesting a move away from traditional morals towards increased vice and immorality. It is frequently cited in cultural and religious critiques of contemporary social trends.
  • the โ€œnatural familyโ€ — used within certain ideological frameworks to describe a family unit based on heterosexual marriage, with clear gender roles and biological offspring. It is often promoted as the foundational building block of society and a standard for raising children.
  • The New International Version (NIV) Bible — The New International Version (NIV) Bible is a contemporary English translation of the Bible, first published in 1978, with a focus on a balance between word-for-word and thought-for-thought translation techniques. It is one of the most popular and widely used modern translations of the Bible.
  • the New Right — refers to a conservative political movement that emerged in the United States in the late 20th century, advocating for free market principles, a strong national defense, traditional family values, and a reduction in government intervention in the economy. It played a significant role in reshaping the Republican Party.
  • The New Testament — The New Testament is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, consisting of texts that describe the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as the early Christian Church’s teachings and history. It includes the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.
  • The Old Testament — the first part of the Christian Bible, comprising religious texts that are also sacred in Judaism. It includes a collection of books that cover the creation of the world, the history of Israel, laws, and prophetic writings, laying the foundation for Christian and Jewish religious beliefs.
  • nuns — women who have taken solemn vows and dedicated their lives to religious service within a monastic order in Christianity. They live a life of prayer, contemplation, and community service, often within a convent or monastery.
Nuns, by Midjourney
  • paleoconservatives — proponents of a political philosophy emphasizing tradition, limited government, civil society, and non-interventionist foreign policies, often advocating for a return to older conservative values and skepticism towards globalism and neoconservatism.
  • party of character — The term “party of character” often refers to a political group or movement that emphasizes moral integrity, ethical conduct, and virtuous leadership as central principles. It asserts that character and personal ethics are crucial for public officials and the governance of society.
  • pastors — ordained leaders within Christian churches who are responsible for guiding the congregation, preaching, administering sacraments, and providing pastoral care. They play a key role in the spiritual life and education of their community members.
  • pious — Pious describes someone who is devoutly religious and deeply committed to the observance of their faith’s rituals and moral principles. It implies a sincere and earnest approach to religious practice and a life led in accordance with one’s spiritual convictions.
  • predestination — the Calvinist concept that God has chosen individuals for salvation prior to their birth
  • priests — In many religions, priests are ordained figures authorized to perform sacred rituals and provide spiritual leadership to the community. In Christianity, particularly within Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and some Anglican and Lutheran traditions, priests administer sacraments, lead worship, and offer pastoral care.
  • 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 — The Prosperity Gospel is a controversial theological belief that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth. Critics argue it often exploits vulnerable believers.
  • Rapture — In Christian eschatology, the Rapture is a future event where believers in Christ will be caught up from Earth to meet the Lord in the air, preceding the tribulation period and Second Coming of Christ. Interpretations of the timing and nature of the Rapture vary among Christians.
The Rapture -- by Midjourney
  • received wisdom — refers to ideas, principles, or knowledge that are traditionally accepted and passed down through generations without being questioned or critically examined. It often pertains to established norms or beliefs in society or within specific communities.
  • religious freedom / religious liberty — Religious freedom or liberty is the principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance without government interference or restriction.
  • “right to work” — statutes in some U.S. states that prohibit union security agreements between companies and workers’ unions. Under these laws, employees in unionized workplaces cannot be compelled to join the union or pay regular union dues, even if they benefit from the collective bargaining agreements.
  • sacrament — In Christianity, a sacrament is a rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. Different Christian traditions hold varying views on the number and nature of sacraments, but they are generally seen as means of grace. Common sacraments include baptism and communion.
  • “school choice” — refers to policies that allow parents to choose their children’s educational pathways, including public, charter, private, and home schooling options. It’s based on the idea that providing various educational options can improve the quality of education by fostering competition.
  • Second Vatican Council — The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, was an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church held from 1962 to 1965. It marked a significant shift in liturgical practices, ecclesiastical approach to the modern world, and the promotion of ecumenism, updating the church’s role in the contemporary world.
  • sermon — an oration or lecture by a preacher (often a religious leader) intended to provide moral or spiritual guidance, typically based on a passage from the Bible. Sermons are a central part of Christian worship services.
Sermon, by Midjourney
  • seven mountains dominionism; 7D — Christian movement that advocates for Christian influence in seven major spheres of society: Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Business. The goal is to bring about societal transformation in accordance with biblical principles.
  • soft coup dโ€™etat — refers to a non-violent overthrow of a government or significant change in power structures, achieved through non-traditional means such as legal challenges, political maneuvering, or psychological operations rather than direct military action.
  • Telecommunications Act of 1996 — a comprehensive law in the United States that overhauled telecommunications regulation. It aimed to deregulate the broadcasting market, encourage competition, and promote the rapid deployment of new telecommunications technologies.
  • televangelism — the use of television broadcasts to spread Christian religious teachings. Televangelists often appeal to viewers for financial donations and may be associated with charismatic preaching and the Prosperity Gospel.
  • theoconservatives — Theoconservatives, or “theocons,” are conservatives who advocate for the integration of traditional religious values into public policy and government. They emphasize the role of faith in political life and often champion causes related to moral and social issues.
  • “traditional marriage” — typically refers to a socially recognized and legally sanctioned union between one man and one woman. Advocates for this definition often oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, arguing for the preservation of historical and religious norms.
  • War on Christmas — a term used by some to describe perceived attempts to minimize or eliminate public expression of Christmas traditions, symbols, and expressions in secular or public spaces, arguing that such efforts undermine Christian values and cultural heritage.

See also: A list of Christian nationalists

Learn more

Read more

The phenomenon of anti-vaccination disinformation, often referred to as the “anti-vax” movement, is a complex and multifaceted issue that has evolved over time, particularly in the United States. It intersects with public health, misinformation, societal trust, and cultural dynamics — to name a few.

History and evolution in the U.S.

The roots of anti-vaccination sentiment in the U.S. can be traced back to the 19th century. Initially, it was based on religious and philosophical grounds, with some opposition to the smallpox vaccine. However, the contemporary form of the anti-vax movement gained momentum in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

A significant turning point was a 1998 study published by Andrew Wakefield, which falsely linked the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) to autism. Despite being debunked and retracted, this study sowed seeds of doubt about vaccine safety.

a vaccine needle, by Midjourney

Key proponents and spreaders of disinformation

The modern anti-vax movement is characterized by its diversity, ranging from fringe conspiracy theorists to wellness influencers and some celebrities. The internet and social media have been crucial in disseminating anti-vaccine misinformation.

Websites, forums, and social media platforms have allowed the rapid spread of false claims, often amplified by algorithms that favor sensational content — because that’s what keeps people consuming content on the sites. It’s part of a larger process of radicalization that social media can contribute to.

Impact on society and sulture

The impact of anti-vaccination disinformation is profound and multifaceted:

  1. Public Health: It poses a significant threat to public health. Reduced vaccination rates can lead to outbreaks of preventable diseases, as seen with the resurgence of measles in recent years, as well as the refusal to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of covid-19.
  2. Trust in Science and Institutions: It erodes trust in medical science, healthcare professionals, and public health institutions. This skepticism extends beyond vaccines, impacting broader public health measures and leading to an increasing science denialism in culture more generally.
  3. Social Polarization: It contributes to social, cultural, and political polarization. Vaccination status has become a contentious issue, often intertwined with political and ideological beliefs.
  4. Economic Impact: There are also economic implications, as disease outbreaks require significant resources to manage and can disrupt communities and businesses.

Combatting anti-vaccination disinformation

Addressing anti-vaccination disinformation requires a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Promoting Accurate Information: Healthcare professionals, scientists, and public health officials need to proactively disseminate accurate, easy-to-understand information about vaccines. This includes addressing common misconceptions and providing transparent information about vaccine development, safety, and efficacy.
  2. Engaging with Concerns: It’s essential to engage respectfully with individuals who have concerns about vaccines. Many people who hesitate are not staunchly anti-vaccine but may have genuine questions or fears that need addressing.
  3. Media Literacy and Critical Thinking: Promoting media literacy and critical thinking skills can help individuals discern reliable information from misinformation.
  4. Policy and Regulation: There’s a role for policy and regulation in addressing misinformation on social media and other platforms. This includes holding platforms accountable for the spread of false information and considering policies around vaccine requirements for certain activities or institutions.
  5. Community Engagement: Leveraging community leaders, including religious and cultural figures, can be effective in promoting vaccination, particularly in communities that are distrustful of government or mainstream healthcare.
  6. Global Perspective: Finally, recognizing that this is a global issue, international cooperation and support are essential, especially in countering misinformation in low and middle-income countries.
virus, by Midjourney

Combating anti-vaccination disinformation is a complex task that requires a nuanced understanding of its historical roots, the mechanisms of its spread, and its societal impacts. Efforts must be multidisciplinary, involving healthcare professionals, educators, policy makers, and community leaders.

The ultimate goal is to foster an environment where informed decisions about vaccinations are made based on credible information, thus protecting public health and societal well-being. To that end, we’ve got a long way to go.

Read more

Hybrid Warfare

Information warfare involves the use and management of information to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent, including both offensive and defensive measures. Offensive tactics might involve cyber attacks, hacking, and disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining an adversary’s decision-making process or public morale. Defensive measures focus on protecting one’s own information systems and networks from similar attacks. Information warfare is heavily reliant on technology and the internet, making it particularly relevant in the digital age.

Information warfare, by Midjourney

Geopolitical conflict is now less about the collision of massive armies and much more about a combination of information warfare, intelligence, espionage, criminal networks, cyberwarfare, psychological warfare, and an overall blend of strategies in addition to traditional “hot” war mechanisms like troop deployment — as well as more modern twists on military engagement including drone strikes and cyberoffensives (the Russia-Ukraine conflict is a canonical modern example of this hybrid warfare strategy). Russian psychological warfare of the Cold War era presaged much of what was to come in modern day spy vs. spy intensity, and the advent of the Internet, social media, and an entirely new digital threat horizon heralds the growth of this form of conflict for years and decades to come.

Information warfare in the United States

Nor is it simply a geopolitical problem manifested by foreign adversaries — now information warfare is a domestic disturbance fomented largely by right-wing political actors and reactionaries in a massive backlash to the cultural and social progress of multiethnic democracy in America since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. From massive corporate PR campaigns lying to the public about the cancerous consequences of smoking to the deliberate seeding of conspiracy theories like QAnon into political discourse, the information warfare playbook has gone mainstream within the Republican party.

Whether we’re aware of it or not, we as American citizens are unwitting infantry in a new form of slow-moving Civil War. In this war, some of the first armaments to pick up are in this set of dictionaries below. Knowledge has always been power — but now, knowledge is one of our best defenses against the Dark Arts as well.

Information warfare terms

More dictionaries ยป

Read more

Cyberbullying involves the use of digital technologies, like social media, texting, and websites, to harass, intimidate, or embarrass individuals. Unlike traditional bullying, its digital nature allows for anonymity and a wider audience. Cyberbullies employ various tactics such as sending threatening messages, spreading rumors online, posting sensitive or derogatory information, or impersonating someone to damage their reputation — on to more sinister and dangerous actions like doxxing.

Geopolitical impact of cyberbullying

In recent years, cyberbullying has transcended personal boundaries and infiltrated the realm of geopolitics. Nation-states or politically motivated groups have started using cyberbullying tactics to intimidate dissidents, manipulate public opinion, or disrupt political processes in other countries. Examples include spreading disinformation, launching smear campaigns against political figures, or using bots to amplify divisive content. This form of cyberbullying can have significant consequences, destabilizing societies and influencing elections.

Recognizing cyberbullying

Identifying cyberbullying involves looking for signs of digital harassment. This can include receiving repeated, unsolicited, and aggressive communications, noticing fake profiles spreading misinformation about an individual, or observing coordinated attacks against a person or group. In geopolitics, recognizing cyberbullying might involve identifying patterns of disinformation, noting unusual social media activity around sensitive political topics, or detecting state-sponsored troll accounts.

Responding to cyberbullying

The response to cyberbullying varies based on the context and severity. For individuals, it involves:

  1. Documentation: Keep records of all bullying messages or posts.
  2. Non-engagement: Avoid responding to the bully, as engagement often escalates the situation.
  3. Reporting: Report the behavior to the platform where it occurred and, if necessary, to law enforcement.
  4. Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for emotional support.

For geopolitical cyberbullying, responses are more complex and involve:

  1. Public Awareness: Educate the public about the signs of state-sponsored cyberbullying and disinformation.
  2. Policy and Diplomacy: Governments can implement policies to counteract foreign cyberbullying and engage in diplomatic efforts to address these issues internationally.
  3. Cybersecurity Measures: Strengthening cybersecurity infrastructures to prevent and respond to cyberbullying at a state level.

Cyberbullying, in its personal and geopolitical forms, represents a significant challenge in the digital age. Understanding its nature, recognizing its signs, and knowing how to respond are crucial steps in mitigating its impact. For individuals, it means being vigilant online and knowing when to seek help. In the geopolitical arena, it requires a coordinated effort from governments, tech companies, and the public to defend against these insidious forms of digital aggression. By taking these steps, societies can work towards a safer, more respectful digital world.

Read more

The term “alternative facts” gained widespread attention on January 22, 2017, when Kellyanne Conway, then-Counselor to President Donald Trump, used it during a “Meet the Press” interview. Conway was defending White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statements about the attendance numbers at Trump’s presidential inauguration the day before.

When challenged by the interviewer, who cited several facts indicating a much smaller crowd size relative to President Obama‘s inauguration, Conway asserted that Spicer was offering “alternative facts” to the media reports, which suggested a lower attendance compared to previous inaugurations.

Kellyanne Conway, by Midjourney

Philosophical and Historical Context

The term, while new in its specific phrasing, taps into a long-standing philosophical debate about truth and reality. Historically, the idea that there can be different interpretations of facts has roots in relativism and constructivism.

However, the way “alternative facts” was used implied a more radical departure from the accepted notion of objective facts, tilting towards a post-truth era where the line between truth and falsehood becomes blurred. It indicated an intentional strategy of disseminating disinformation early on in the Trump administration, and articulated it out loud in a way that previous presidents had never done before.

Use in US politics

The use of “alternative facts” in US politics has been controversial and highly debated. Proponents argue that the term simply reflects different perspectives and interpretations of events. Critics, however, see it as an attempt to legitimize falsehoods or misleading information, particularly when used by those in power to contradict evidence and well-established facts.

The term quickly became symbolic of the Trump administration’s relationship with the media and its approach to information dissemination. It was seen as part of a broader strategy that involved discrediting mainstream media as so-called “fake news,” promoting favorable narratives, and challenging the notion of objective truth. It extended the already prevalent right-wing strategy of science denialism into a kind of denialism of reality itself — a dangerous path towards authoritarianism reminiscent of the use of Newspeak in George Orwell’s famous classic dystopian novel, 1984.

Donald Trump spewing "Alternative Facts" into the disinformation ecosystem, by Midjourney

Implications for American democracy

The implications of the widespread use of “alternative facts” for American democracy are profound and multifaceted:

  1. Erosion of Trust: The concept challenges the role of a free press and fact-checking institutions in democracy. When official statements are at odds with verifiable evidence, it erodes public trust in both the government and the media.
  2. Polarization: It exacerbates political polarization. When people cannot agree on basic facts, finding common ground becomes challenging, leading to a more divided society.
  3. Manipulation and Propaganda: The term can be weaponized for political ends, allowing for manipulation of public opinion and spreading propaganda.
  4. Accountability and Governance: In a democracy, accountability is key. If leaders are seen to use “alternative facts” without consequence, it undermines democratic governance and the expectation that leaders are truthful and transparent.
  5. Public Discourse and Decision Making: Accurate information is crucial for informed decision making by the electorate. When false information is disseminated under the guise of “alternative facts,” it impairs the public’s ability to make informed decisions.
  6. Legal and Ethical Concerns: The concept raises ethical concerns about honesty and integrity in public office and can complicate legal proceedings when factual accuracy is disputed.

The dangers of “reality denial”alternative facts” in political discourse

“Alternative facts,” as a term and a concept, represents more than just a linguistic novelty; it signifies a shift in the landscape of political discourse and the relationship between truth, power, and democracy. Its emergence and use reflect deeper tensions in society about trust, media, and the nature of reality itself. For American democracy, grappling with the implications of this term is not just an intellectual exercise but a necessary endeavor to preserve the integrity of our democratic institutions and public discourse.

It’s one thing to have legitimately different perspectives on the issues. It’s quite another to throw out the founding ideals and Enlightenment principles of rational inquiry, scientific observation, and reality testing altogether. If we cannot agree even on the basic facts of a situation, the ability to arrive at any kind of policy consensus about what to do to solve issues and problems in society that will always occur is deeply impaired — and indeed, our democracy is placed in great peril.

We must recommit fully to the finding of Actual Facts — and put behind us the childish nursing of our favored Alternative Facts.

Read more

Shitposting, a term that has seeped into the mainstream of internet culture, is often characterized by the act of posting deliberately provocative, off-topic, or nonsensical content in online communities and on social media. The somewhat vulgar term encapsulates a spectrum of online behavior ranging from harmless, humorous banter to malicious, divisive content.

Typically, a shit-post is defined by its lack of substantive content, its primary goal being to elicit attention and reactions — whether amusement, confusion, or irritation — from its intended audience. Closely related to trolling, shitposting is one aspect of a broader pantheon of bad faith behavior online.

Shit-poster motivations

The demographic engaging in shit-posting is diverse, cutting across various age groups, social strata, and political affiliations. However, it’s particularly prevalent among younger internet users who are well-versed in meme culture and online vernacular. The motivations for shit-posting can be as varied as its practitioners.

Some engage in it for humor and entertainment, seeing it as a form of digital performance art. Others may use it as a tool for social commentary or satire, while a more nefarious subset might employ it to spread disinformation and misinformation, sow discord, and/or harass individuals or groups.

Online trolls shitposting on the internet, by Midjourney

Context in US politics

In the realm of U.S. politics, shit-posting has assumed a significant role in recent elections, especially on platforms like Twitter / X, Reddit, and Facebook. Politicians, activists, and politically engaged individuals often use this tactic to galvanize supporters, mock opponents, or shape public perception. Itโ€™s not uncommon to see political shit-posts that are laden with irony, exaggeration, or out-of-context information, designed to inflame passions or reinforce existing biases — or exploit them.

Recognition and response

Recognizing shit-posting involves a discerning eye. Key indicators include the use of hyperbole, irony, non-sequiturs, and content that seems outlandishly out of place or context. The tone is often mocking or sarcastic. Visual cues, such as memes or exaggerated images, are common.

Responding to shit-posting is a nuanced affair. Engaging with it can sometimes amplify the message, which might be the poster’s intention. A measured approach is to assess the intent behind the post. If it’s harmless humor, it might warrant a light-hearted response or none at all.

For posts that are disinformation or border on misinformation or toxicity, countering with factual information, reporting the content, or choosing not to engage are viable strategies. The key is not to feed into the cycle of provocation and reaction that shit-posting often seeks to perpetuate.

Shitposting troll farms lurk in the shadows, beaming disinformation across the land -- by Midjourney

Fighting back

Shit-posting, in its many forms, is a complex phenomenon in the digital age. It straddles the line between being a form of modern-day satire and a tool for misinformation, propaganda, and/or cyberbullying. As digital communication continues to evolve, understanding the nuances of shit-posting โ€“ its forms, motivations, and impacts โ€“ becomes crucial, particularly in politically charged environments. Navigating this landscape requires a balanced approach, blending awareness, discernment, and thoughtful engagement.

This overview provides a basic understanding of shit-posting, but the landscape is ever-changing, with new forms and norms continually emerging. The ongoing evolution of online communication norms, including phenomena like shit-posting, is particularly fascinating and significant in the broader context of digital culture and political discourse.

Read more

Science denialism has a complex and multifaceted history, notably marked by a significant event in 1953 that set a precedent for the tactics of disinformation widely observed in various spheres today, including politics.

The 1953 meeting and the birth of the disinformation playbook

The origins of modern science denial can be traced back to a pivotal meeting in December 1953, involving the heads of the four largest American tobacco companies. This meeting was a response to emerging scientific research linking smoking to lung cancer. Concerned about the potential impact on their business, these industry leaders collaborated with a public relations firm, Hill & Knowlton, to craft a strategy. This strategy was designed not only to dispute the growing evidence about the health risks of smoking, but also to manipulate public perception by creating doubt about the science itself.

And it worked — for over 40 years. The public never formed a consensus on the lethality and addictiveness of nicotine until well into the 1990s, when the jig was finally up and Big Tobacco had to pay a record-breaking $200 billion settlement over their 4 decades of mercilessly lying to the American people following the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) of 1998.

smoking and the disinformation campaign of Big Tobacco leading to science denialism, by Midjourney

Strategies of the disinformation playbook

This approach laid the groundwork for what is often referred to as the “disinformation playbook.” The key elements of this playbook include creating doubt about scientific consensus, funding research that could contradict or cloud scientific understanding, using think tanks or other organizations to promote these alternative narratives, and influencing media and public opinion to maintain policy and regulatory environments favorable to their interests — whether profit, power, or both.

Over the next 7 decades — up to the present day — this disinformation playbook has been used by powerful special interests to cast doubt, despite scientific consensus, on acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer, the viability of Ronald Reagan‘s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and perhaps most notably: the man-made causes of climate change.

Adoption and adaptation in various industries

The tobacco industryโ€™s tactics were alarmingly successful for decades, delaying effective regulation and public awareness of smoking’s health risks. These strategies were later adopted and adapted by various industries and groups facing similar scientific challenges to their products or ideologies. For instance, the fossil fuel industry used similar tactics to cast doubt on global warming — leading to the phenomenon of climate change denialism. Chemical manufacturers have disputed science on the harmful effects of certain chemicals like DDT and BPA.

What began as a PR exercise by Big Tobacco to preserve their fantastic profits once science discovered the deleterious health effects of smoking eventually evolved into a strategy of fomenting science denialism more broadly. Why discredit one single finding of the scientific community when you could cast doubt on the entire process of science itself — as a way of future-proofing any government regulation that might curtail your business interests?

Science denial in modern politics

In recent years, the tactics of science denial have become increasingly prevalent in politics. Political actors, often influenced by corporate interests or ideological agendas, have employed these strategies to challenge scientific findings that are politically inconvenient — despite strong and often overwhelming evidence. This is evident in manufactured “debates” on climate change, vaccine safety, and COVID-19, where scientific consensus is often contested not based on new scientific evidence but through disinformation strategies aimed at sowing doubt and confusion.

The role of digital media and politicization

The rise of social media has accelerated the spread of science denial. The digital landscape allows for rapid dissemination of misinformation and the formation of echo chambers, where groups can reinforce shared beliefs or skepticism, often insulated from corrective or opposing information. Additionally, the politicization of science, where scientific findings are viewed through the lens of political allegiance rather than objective evidence, has further entrenched science denial in modern discourse — as just one aspect of the seeming politicization of absolutely everything in modern life and culture.

Strategies for combatting science denial

The ongoing impact of science denial is profound. It undermines public understanding of science, hampers informed decision-making, and delays action on critical issues like climate change, public health, and environmental protection. The spread of misinformation about vaccines, for instance, has led to a decrease in vaccination rates and a resurgence of diseases like measles.

scientific literacy, by Midjourney

To combat science denial, experts suggest several strategies. Promoting scientific literacy and critical thinking skills among the general public is crucial. This involves not just understanding scientific facts, but also developing an understanding of the scientific method and how scientific knowledge is developed and validated. Engaging in open, transparent communication about science, including the discussion of uncertainties and limitations of current knowledge, can also help build public trust in science.

Science denial, rooted in the strategies developed by the tobacco industry in the 1950s, has evolved into a significant challenge in contemporary society, impacting not just public health and environmental policy but also the very nature of public discourse and trust in science. Addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, including education, transparent communication, and collaborative efforts to uphold the integrity of scientific information.

Read more

Climate Change Denial: From Big Tobacco Tactics to Today’s Global Challenge

In the complex narrative of global climate change, one pervasive thread is the phenomenon of climate change denial. This denial isn’t just a refusal to accept the scientific findings around climate change; it is a systematic effort to discredit and cast doubt on environmental realities and the need for urgent action.

Remarkably, the roots of this denial can be traced back to the strategies used by the tobacco industry in the mid-20th century to obfuscate the link between smoking and lung cancer. This companies conspired to create a disinformation campaign against the growing scientific consensus on the manmade nature of climate change, to cast doubt about the link between the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of the planet’s natural ecosystems — and they succeeded, for over half a century, beginning in 1953.

climate change and its denial, by Midjourney

Origins in big tobacco’s playbook

The origins of climate change denial lie in a well-oiled, public relations machine initially designed by the tobacco industry. When scientific studies began linking smoking to lung cancer in the 1950s, tobacco companies launched an extensive campaign to challenge these findings. Their strategy was not to disprove the science outright but to sow seeds of doubt, suggesting that the research was not conclusive and that more studies were needed. This strategy of manufacturing doubt proved effective in delaying regulatory and public action against tobacco products, for more than 5 decades.

Adoption by climate change deniers

This playbook was later adopted by those seeking to undermine climate science. In the late 20th century, as scientific consensus grew around the human impact on global warming, industries and political groups with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo began to employ similar tactics around lying at scale. They funded research to challenge or undermine climate science, supported think tanks and lobbyists to influence public opinion and policy, and used media outlets to spread a narrative of uncertainty and skepticism.

Political consequences

The political consequences of climate change denial have been profound. In the United States and other countries, it has polarized the political debate over environmental policy, turning what is fundamentally a scientific issue into a partisan one. This politicization has hindered comprehensive national and global policies to combat climate change, as legislative efforts are often stalled by ideological conflicts.

a burning forest of climate change, by Midjourney

Denial campaigns have also influenced public opinion, creating a significant segment of the population that is skeptical of climate science years after overwhelming scientific consensus has been reached, which further complicates efforts to implement wide-ranging environmental reforms.

Current stakes and global impact

Today, the stakes of climate change denial could not be higher. As the world faces increasingly severe consequences of global warming โ€” including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ecosystems โ€” the need for decisive action becomes more urgent. Yet, climate change denial continues to impede progress. By casting doubt on scientific consensus, it hampers efforts to build the broad public support necessary for bold environmental policies that may help thwart or mitigate some of the worst disasters.

Moreover, climate change denial poses a significant risk to developing countries, which are often the most vulnerable to climate impacts but the least equipped to adapt. Denialism in wealthier nations can lead to a lack of global cooperation and support needed to address these challenges comprehensively.

Moving forward: acknowledging the science and embracing action

To effectively combat climate change, it is crucial to recognize the roots and ramifications of climate change denial. Understanding its origins in the Big Tobacco disinformation strategy helps demystify the tactics used to undermine environmental science. It’s equally important to acknowledge the role of political and economic interests in perpetuating this denial — oil tycoon Charles Koch alone spends almost $1 billion per election cycle, heavily to climate deniers.

A climate change desert, by Midjourney

However, there is a growing global movement acknowledging the reality of climate change and the need for urgent action. From international agreements like the Paris Accord to grassroots activism pushing for change, there is a mounting push against the tide of denial.

Climate change denial, with its roots in the Big Tobacco playbook, poses a significant obstacle to global efforts to address environmental challenges. Its political ramifications have stalled critical policy initiatives, and its ongoing impact threatens global cooperation. As we face the increasing urgency of climate change, acknowledging and countering this denial is crucial for paving the way towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

Read more

Donald Trump pathocracy, by Midjourney

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

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

Origins and development of the concept of pathocracy

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

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

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

Characteristics of pathocratic leadership

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

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

Read more

The special grand jury in Georgia that investigated efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results in favor of loser Donald Trump has recommended indictments against 39 individuals, a number significantly higher than the 19 people ultimately charged by prosecutors. Among those recommended for indictment in the Georgia RICO case but who were not charged were South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, and former Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn.

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

39 Georgia co-conspirators recommended for indictment

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

What is RICO?

Georgia RICO brings racketeering to the fore, by Midjourney

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

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.
Read more

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.

Read more