Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #950 Shock to the System: Further Reflections on the Breitbart Axis

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: This broad­cast updates cov­er­age of key aspects of the Nazi/fascist, oops, we mean “alt-right” milieu that moved into gov­ern­ment cour­tesy of the Trumpenkampfver­bande and Bre­it­bart.

Fur­ther devel­op­ing the ter­ri­fy­ing real­i­ty of what Arti­fi­cial Intel­l­li­gence (AI) can accom­plish for the ded­i­cat­ed fas­cist, oops, we mean “alt-right,” adher­ent, we note an impor­tant address giv­en at SXSW. Microsoft researcher Kate Craw­ford gave a speech titled “Dark Days: AI and the Rise of Fas­cism.” The pre­sen­ta­tion high­light­ed the social impact of machine learn­ing and large-scale data sys­tems. The take home mes­sage? By del­e­gat­ing pow­ers to Bid Data-dri­ven AIs, those AIs could become fascist’s dream: Incred­i­ble pow­er over the lives of oth­ers with min­i­mal account­abil­i­ty: ” . . . .‘This is a fascist’s dream,’ she said. ‘Pow­er with­out account­abil­i­ty.’ . . . .”

Turn­ing next to the polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of Steve Ban­non and the sem­i­nal influ­ences on its devel­op­ment, we refresh our acquain­tance with Cur­tis Yarvin, aka “Men­cius Mold­bug,” a her­ald of the Dark Enlight­ment.

Cur­tis Yarvin has actu­al­ly opened a backchan­nel advi­so­ry con­nec­tion to the White House.

Note that the Ban­non influ­ences all seem to agree that what is need­ed is “a shock to the sys­tem.” We may very well expe­ri­ence just that. ” . . . .  . . . . Bannon’s read­ings tend to have one thing in com­mon: the view that tech­nocrats have put West­ern civ­i­liza­tion on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry and that only a shock to the sys­tem can reverse its decline. . . . ”

Fas­cist philoso­pher Julius Evola is anoth­er of the key influ­ences on Ban­non. Evola was an ear­ly occult fas­cist, with strong con­nec­tions with Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Even­tu­al­ly Evola estab­lished strong, last­ing con­nec­tions with the Nazi SS, both oper­a­tional­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly.

He is anoth­er advo­cate of the “shock to the system”/“blow it up” approach to the sta­tus quo. ” . . . Chang­ing the sys­tem, Evola argued, was ‘not a ques­tion of con­test­ing and polemi­ciz­ing, but of blow­ing every­thing up.’ . . . .”

A reveal­ing influ­ence on Ban­non is a French nov­el The Camp of the Saints by Jean Ras­pail. “. . . . The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Rev­e­la­tion 20:9is noth­ing less than a call to arms for the white Chris­t­ian West, to revive the spir­it of the Cru­sades and steel itself for bloody con­flict against the poor black and brown world with­out and the trai­tors with­in. The novel’s last line links past humil­i­a­tions tight­ly to its own grim para­ble about mod­ern migra­tion. ‘The Fall of Con­stan­tino­ple,’ Raspail’s unnamed nar­ra­tor says, ‘is a per­son­al mis­for­tune that hap­pened to all of us only last week.’ . . . . ”

In FTR #947, we high­light­ed Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, a Bre­it­bart alum­nus and Hun­gar­i­an fas­cist. Gor­ka is now the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s point man work­ing against Islam­ic ter­ror­ism. His view (and Ban­non’s) that we are engaged in an his­toric clash of civ­i­liza­tions. That is pre­cise­ly the point of view expressed by ISIS (and The Camp of the Saints) and will play into their hands.

That, in turn, will help pro­pel the U.S. into more end­less wars on the periph­ery of our empire, ulti­mate­ly sap­ping the nation’s vital­i­ty and lead­ing to the fall of the U.S. in a man­ner delin­eat­ed in FTR #944.

After review­ing Gorka’s anti-Semi­tism, his pro­found con­nec­tions to three gen­er­a­tions of Hun­gar­i­an fas­cism dat­ing to the pre-World War II peri­od and con­fir­ma­tion of his alle­giance to the Order of Vitezi Rend, we high­light the fact that Gor­ka is part of the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group, some­thing of a par­al­lel NSC formed by Steve Ban­non. It reminds us of Hitler’s cre­ation of a par­al­lel gen­er­al staff, born of a mis­trust of his own senior offi­cers and a desire to have a trust­ed cadre to obey his orders.

” . . . . In the Unit­ed States, Gor­ka, who was appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent on Jan­u­ary 20, is known as a tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor, a pro­fes­sor and an “alt-right” writer who describes him­self as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert. A close asso­ciate of Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, Gor­ka is now part of Bannon’s key in-house White House think tank, the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. The new­ly formed group con­sists of fig­ures close to Trump and is seen by some as a rival to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies for the pres­i­dent. . . .”

The con­clu­sion of the pro­gram fore­shad­ows dis­cus­sion in our next broad­cast, which will crit­i­cal­ly exam­ine Bernie Sanders cam­paign and dis­turb­ing indi­ca­tions that his can­di­da­cy may have been gen­er­at­ed by the Under­ground Reich as a vehi­cle for infil­trat­ing and desta­bi­liz­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty.

In FTR #941, we high­light­ed the push by Bernie Sanders and his promi­nent backer Tul­si Gab­bard to have Kei­th Elli­son, an African-Amer­i­can Mus­lim to be head of the DNC. He was not elect­ed head of the DNC, but is now deputy chair of the DNC, the posi­tion for­mer­ly held by Gab­bard.

Elli­son is net­worked with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and the Nation of Islam as well. ” . . . . Indeed, the June 21, 1998 arti­cle states that at that time – that is, three years after Farrakhan’s march – Elli­son was a mem­ber of the Nation of Islam: ‘Elli­son has been active in the com­mu­ni­ty, but not with­in the estab­lished DFL par­ty [the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in Min­neso­ta]. A mem­ber of the Nation of Islam, Elli­son was the coor­di­na­tor of the Min­neso­ta par­tic­i­pants in the Mil­lion Man March and the sub­se­quent com­mu­ni­ty group that formed.’ . . . .”

In a point of dis­cus­sion that will be con­duct­ed at greater length in our next pro­gram, we con­clude by not­ing that anoth­er of Kei­th Ellison’s sup­port­ers to head the DNC was Faisal Gill, a Grover Norquist pro­tege whom we cov­ered in FTR #467.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Review of Gorka’s for­ma­tion of a fas­cist par­ty in Hun­gary in the last decade.
  • Review of Gorka’s doc­tri­naire anti-Semi­tism.
  • Review of Gorka’s net­work­ing with mem­bers of the Job­bik Par­ty in Hun­gary.
  • Review of Gorka’s sup­port­ive atti­tude toward the Arrow Cross Par­ty, which allied with Hitler.
  • Review of Job­bik’s affin­i­ty with Julius Evola.
  • Review of Karl Rove’s and Grover Norquist’s sem­i­nal sup­port for the cre­ation of a Mus­lim Broth­er­hood branch of the GOP.

1a. At the SXSW event, Microsoft researcher Kate Craw­ford gave a speech about her work titled “Dark Days: AI and the Rise of Fas­cism,” the pre­sen­ta­tion high­light­ed  the social impact of machine learn­ing and large-scale data sys­tems. The take home mes­sage? By del­e­gat­ing pow­ers to Bid Data-dri­ven AIs, those AIs could become fascist’s dream: Incred­i­ble pow­er over the lives of oth­ers with min­i­mal account­abil­i­ty: ” . . . .‘This is a fascist’s dream,’ she said. ‘Pow­er with­out account­abil­i­ty.’ . . . .”

“Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Is Ripe for Abuse, Tech Researcher Warns: ‘A Fascist’s Dream’” by Olivia Solon; The Guardian; 3/13/2017.

Microsoft’s Kate Craw­ford tells SXSW that soci­ety must pre­pare for author­i­tar­i­an move­ments to test the ‘pow­er with­out account­abil­i­ty’ of AI

As arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence becomes more pow­er­ful, peo­ple need to make sure it’s not used by author­i­tar­i­an regimes to cen­tral­ize pow­er and tar­get cer­tain pop­u­la­tions, Microsoft Research’s Kate Craw­ford warned on Sun­day.

In her SXSW ses­sion, titled Dark Days: AI and the Rise of Fas­cism, Craw­ford, who stud­ies the social impact of machine learn­ing and large-scale data sys­tems, explained ways that auto­mat­ed sys­tems and their encod­ed bias­es can be mis­used, par­tic­u­lar­ly when they fall into the wrong hands.

“Just as we are see­ing a step func­tion increase in the spread of AI, some­thing else is hap­pen­ing: the rise of ultra-nation­al­ism, rightwing author­i­tar­i­an­ism and fas­cism,” she said.

All of these move­ments have shared char­ac­ter­is­tics, includ­ing the desire to cen­tral­ize pow­er, track pop­u­la­tions, demo­nize out­siders and claim author­i­ty and neu­tral­i­ty with­out being account­able. Machine intel­li­gence can be a pow­er­ful part of the pow­er play­book, she said.

One of the key prob­lems with arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence is that it is often invis­i­bly cod­ed with human bias­es. She described a con­tro­ver­sial piece of research from Shang­hai Jiao Tong Uni­ver­si­ty in Chi­na, where authors claimed to have devel­oped a sys­tem that could pre­dict crim­i­nal­i­ty based on someone’s facial fea­tures. The machine was trained on Chi­nese gov­ern­ment ID pho­tos, ana­lyz­ing the faces of crim­i­nals and non-crim­i­nals to iden­ti­fy pre­dic­tive fea­tures. The researchers claimed it was free from bias.

“We should always be sus­pi­cious when machine learn­ing sys­tems are described as free from bias if it’s been trained on human-gen­er­at­ed data,” Craw­ford said. “Our bias­es are built into that train­ing data.”

In the Chi­nese research it turned out that the faces of crim­i­nals were more unusu­al than those of law-abid­ing cit­i­zens. “Peo­ple who had dis­sim­i­lar faces were more like­ly to be seen as untrust­wor­thy by police and judges. That’s encod­ing bias,” Craw­ford said. “This would be a ter­ri­fy­ing sys­tem for an auto­crat to get his hand on.”

Craw­ford then out­lined the “nasty his­to­ry” of peo­ple using facial fea­tures to “jus­ti­fy the unjus­ti­fi­able”. The prin­ci­ples of phrenol­o­gy, a pseu­do­science that devel­oped across Europe and the US in the 19th cen­tu­ry, were used as part of the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of both slav­ery and the Nazi per­se­cu­tion of Jews.

With AI this type of dis­crim­i­na­tion can be masked in a black box of algo­rithms, as appears to be the case with a com­pa­ny called Face­cep­tion, for instance, a firm that promis­es to pro­file people’s per­son­al­i­ties based on their faces. In its ownmar­ket­ing mate­r­i­al, the com­pa­ny sug­gests that Mid­dle East­ern-look­ing peo­ple with beards are “ter­ror­ists”, while white look­ing women with trendy hair­cuts are “brand pro­mot­ers”.

Anoth­er area where AI can be mis­used is in build­ing reg­istries, which can then be used to tar­get cer­tain pop­u­la­tion groups. Craw­ford not­ed his­tor­i­cal cas­es of reg­istry abuse, includ­ing IBM’s role in enabling Nazi Ger­many to track Jew­ish, Roma and oth­er eth­nic groups with the Hol­lerith Machine, and the Book of Life used in South Africa dur­ing apartheid. [We note in pass­ing that Robert Mer­cer, who devel­oped the core pro­grams used by Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca did so while work­ing for IBM. We dis­cussed the pro­found rela­tion­ship between IBM and the Third Reich in FTR #279–D.E.]

Don­ald Trump has float­ed the idea of cre­at­ing a Mus­lim reg­istry. “We already have that. Face­book has become the default Mus­lim reg­istry of the world,” Craw­ford said, men­tion­ing research from Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty that showed it is pos­si­ble to pre­dict people’s reli­gious beliefs based on what they “like” on the social net­work. Chris­tians and Mus­lims were cor­rect­ly clas­si­fied in 82% of cas­es, and sim­i­lar results were achieved for Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans (85%). That study was con­clud­ed in 2013, since when AI has made huge leaps.

Craw­ford was con­cerned about the poten­tial use of AI in pre­dic­tive polic­ing sys­tems, which already gath­er the kind of data nec­es­sary to train an AI sys­tem. Such sys­tems are flawed, as shown by a Rand Cor­po­ra­tion study of Chicago’s pro­gram. The pre­dic­tive polic­ing did not reduce crime, but did increase harass­ment of peo­ple in “hotspot” areas. Ear­li­er this year the jus­tice depart­ment con­clud­ed that Chicago’s police had for years reg­u­lar­ly used “unlaw­ful force”, and that black and His­pan­ic neigh­bor­hoods were most affect­ed.

Anoth­er wor­ry relat­ed to the manip­u­la­tion of polit­i­cal beliefs or shift­ing vot­ers, some­thing Face­book and Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca claim they can already do. Craw­ford was skep­ti­cal about giv­ing Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca cred­it for Brex­it and the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, but thinks what the firm promis­es – using thou­sands of data points on peo­ple to work out how to manip­u­late their views – will be pos­si­ble “in the next few years”.

“This is a fascist’s dream,” she said. “Pow­er with­out account­abil­i­ty.”

Such black box sys­tems are start­ing to creep into gov­ern­ment. Palan­tir is build­ing an intel­li­gence sys­tem to assist Don­ald Trump in deport­ing immi­grants.

“It’s the most pow­er­ful engine of mass depor­ta­tion this coun­try has ever seen,” she said. . . .

1b. One of the influ­ences on Ban­non is Cur­tis Yarvin, aka Men­cius Mold­bug, who has actu­al­ly opened a backchan­nel advi­so­ry con­nec­tion to the White House.

Note that the Ban­non influ­ences all seem to agree that what is need­ed is “a shock to the sys­tem.” We may very well expe­ri­ence just that. ” . . . .  . . . . Bannon’s read­ings tend to have one thing in com­mon: the view that tech­nocrats have put West­ern civ­i­liza­tion on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry and that only a shock to the sys­tem can reverse its decline. . . . ”

“What Steve Ban­non Wants You to Read” by Eliana John­son and Eli Stokols; Politi­co; 2/07/2017.

 . . . . Bannon’s read­ings tend to have one thing in com­mon: the view that tech­nocrats have put West­ern civ­i­liza­tion on a down­ward tra­jec­to­ry and that only a shock to the sys­tem can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apoc­a­lyp­tic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own pub­lic remarks over the years—a sense that human­i­ty is at a hinge point in his­to­ry. His ascen­dant pres­ence in the West Wing is giv­ing once-obscure intel­lec­tu­als unex­pect­ed influ­ence over the high­est ech­e­lons of gov­ern­ment. . . .

 . . . . Before he emerged on the polit­i­cal scene, an obscure Sil­i­con Val­ley com­put­er pro­gram­mer with ties to Trump backer and Pay­Pal co-founder Peter Thiel was explain­ing his behav­ior. Cur­tis Yarvin, the self-pro­claimed ‘neo­re­ac­tionary’ who blogs under the name ‘Men­cius Mold­bug,’ attract­ed a fol­low­ing in 2008 when he pub­lished a wordy trea­tise assert­ing, among oth­er things, that ‘non­sense is a more effec­tive orga­niz­ing tool than the truth.’ When the orga­niz­er of a com­put­er sci­ence con­fer­ence can­celed Yarvin’s appear­ance fol­low­ing an out­cry over his blog­ging under his nom de web, Ban­non took note: Bre­it­bart News decried the act of cen­sor­ship in an arti­cle about the programmer-blogger’s dis­missal.

Moldbug’s dense, dis­cur­sive mus­ings on history—‘What’s so bad about the Nazis?’ he asks in one 2008 post that con­demns the Holo­caust but ques­tions the moral supe­ri­or­i­ty of the Allies—include a belief in the util­i­ty of spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion that now looks like a tem­plate for Trump’s approach to truth. ‘To believe in non­sense is an unforge­able [sic] demon­stra­tion of loy­al­ty. It serves as a polit­i­cal uni­form. And if you have a uni­form, you have an army,’ he writes in a May 2008 post.It’s been a while since I post­ed any­thing real­ly con­tro­ver­sial and offen­sive here,’ he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explain­ing why he asso­ciates democ­ra­cy with ‘war, tyran­ny, destruc­tion and pover­ty.’

Mold­bug, who does not do inter­views and could not be reached for this sto­ry, has report­ed­ly opened up a line to the White House, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with Ban­non and his aides through an inter­me­di­ary, accord­ing to a source. . . .

1c. Fas­cist philoso­pher Julius Evola is anoth­er of the key influ­ences on Ban­non. Evola was an ear­ly occult fas­cist, with strong con­nec­tions with Mus­solin­i’s Italy. Even­tu­al­ly Evola estab­lished strong, last­ing con­nec­tions with the Nazi SS, both oper­a­tional­ly and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly.

Evola has also influ­enced Alexan­der Dug­in, a promi­nent Russ­ian ide­o­logue and politi­cian.

He is anoth­er advo­cate of the “shock to the system”/“blow it up” approach to the sta­tus quo. ” . . . Chang­ing the sys­tem, Evola argued, was ‘not a ques­tion of con­test­ing and polemi­ciz­ing, but of blow­ing every­thing up.’ . . . .”

“Fas­cists Too Lax For a Philoso­pher Cit­ed by Ban­non” by Jason Horowitz; The New York Times; 2/12/2017.

Those try­ing to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apoc­a­lyp­tic world­view have repeat­ed­ly combed over a speech that Mr. Ban­non, Pres­i­dent Trump’s ide­o­log­i­cal guru, made in 2014 to a Vat­i­can con­fer­ence, where he expound­ed on Islam, pop­ulism and cap­i­tal­ism.

But for all the exam­i­na­tion of those remarks, a pass­ing ref­er­ence by Mr. Ban­non to an eso­teric Ital­ian philoso­pher has gone lit­tle noticed, except per­haps by schol­ars and fol­low­ers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affil­i­at­ed thinker, Julius Evola.

“The fact that Ban­non even knows Evola is sig­nif­i­cant,” said Mark Sedg­wick, a lead­ing schol­ar of Tra­di­tion­al­ists at Aarhus Uni­ver­si­ty in Den­mark.

Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on every­thing from East­ern reli­gions to the meta­physics of sex to alche­my. But he is best known as a lead­ing pro­po­nent of Tra­di­tion­al­ism, a world­view pop­u­lar in far-right and alter­na­tive reli­gious cir­cles that believes progress and equal­i­ty are poi­so­nous illu­sions.

Evola became a dar­ling of Ital­ian Fas­cists, and Italy’s post-Fas­cist ter­ror­ists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spir­i­tu­al and intel­lec­tu­al god­fa­ther.

They called them­selves Chil­dren of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bour­geoisie-smash­ing new order that he called the Solar Civ­i­liza­tion. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi par­ty Gold­en Dawn includes his works on its sug­gest­ed read­ing list, and the leader of Job­bik, the Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist par­ty, admires Evola and wrote an intro­duc­tion to his works.

More impor­tant for the cur­rent Amer­i­can admin­is­tra­tion, Evola also caught on in the Unit­ed States with lead­ers of the alt-right move­ment, which Mr. Ban­non nur­tured as the head of Bre­it­bart News and then helped har­ness for Mr. Trump.

“Julius Evola is one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing men of the 20th cen­tu­ry,” said Richard Spencer, the white nation­al­ist leader who is a top fig­ure in the alt-right move­ment, which has attract­ed white suprema­cists, racists and anti-immi­grant ele­ments.

In the days after the elec­tion, Mr. Spencer led a Wash­ing­ton alt-right con­fer­ence in chants of “Hail Trump!” But he also invoked Evola’s idea of a pre­his­toric and pre-Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al­i­ty — refer­ring to the awak­en­ing of whites, whom he called the Chil­dren of the Sun.

Mr. Spencer said “it means a tremen­dous amount” that Mr. Ban­non was aware of Evola and oth­er Tra­di­tion­al­ist thinkers.

“Even if he hasn’t ful­ly imbibed them and been changed by them, he is at least open to them,” he said. “He at least rec­og­nizes that they are there. That is a stark dif­fer­ence to the Amer­i­can con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment that either was igno­rant of them or attempt­ed to sup­press them.”

Mr. Ban­non, who did not return a request for com­ment for this arti­cle, is an avid and wide-rang­ing read­er. He has spo­ken enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly about every­thing from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” to “The Fourth Turn­ing” by William Strauss and Neil Howe, which sees his­to­ry in cycles of cat­a­clysmic and order-oblit­er­at­ing change. His aware­ness of and ref­er­ence to Evola in itself only reflects that read­ing. But some on the alt-right con­sid­er Mr. Ban­non a door through which Evola’s ideas of a hier­ar­chi­cal soci­ety run by a spir­i­tu­al­ly supe­ri­or caste can enter in a peri­od of cri­sis.

“Evolists view his ship as com­ing in,” said Prof. Richard Drake at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mon­tana, who wrote about Evola in his book “The Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Mys­tique and Ter­ror­ism in Con­tem­po­rary Italy.”

For some of them, it has been a long time com­ing.

“It’s the first time that an advis­er to the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent knows Evola, or maybe has a Tra­di­tion­al­ist for­ma­tion,” said Gian­fran­co De Tur­ris, an Evola biog­ra­ph­er and apol­o­gist based in Rome who runs the Evola Foun­da­tion out of his apart­ment.

“If Ban­non has these ideas, we have to see how he influ­ences the pol­i­tics of Trump,” he said.

A March arti­cle titled “An Estab­lish­ment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right” in Bre­it­bart, the web­site then run by Mr. Ban­non, includ­ed Evola as one of the thinkers in whose writ­ings the “ori­gins of the alter­na­tive right” could be found.

The arti­cle was co-writ­ten by Milo Yiannopou­los, the right-wing provo­ca­teur who is wild­ly pop­u­lar with con­ser­v­a­tives on col­lege cam­pus­es. Mr. Trump recent­ly defend­ed Mr. Yiannopou­los as a sym­bol of free speech after demon­stra­tors vio­lent­ly protest­ed his planned speech at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley.

The arti­cle cel­e­brat­ed the youth­ful inter­net trolls who give the alt-right move­ment its ener­gy and who, moti­vat­ed by a com­mon and ques­tion­able sense of humor, use anti-Semit­ic and racial­ly charged memes “in typ­i­cal­ly juve­nile but unde­ni­ably hys­ter­i­cal fash­ion.”

“It’s hard to imag­ine them read­ing Evola,” the arti­cle con­tin­ued. “They may be inclined to sym­pa­thize to those caus­es, but main­ly because it annoys the right peo­ple.”

Evola, who has more than annoyed peo­ple for near­ly a cen­tu­ry, seems to be hav­ing a moment.

“When I start­ed work­ing on Evola, you had to plow through Ital­ian,” said Mr. Sedg­wick, who keeps track of Tra­di­tion­al­ist move­ments and thought on his blog, Tra­di­tion­al­ists. “Now he’s avail­able in Eng­lish, Ger­man, Russ­ian, Ser­bian, Greek, Hun­gar­i­an. First I saw Evola boom, and then I real­ized the num­ber of peo­ple inter­est­ed in that sort of idea was boom­ing.”

Born in 1898, Evola liked to call him­self a baron and in lat­er life sport­ed a mon­o­cle in his left eye.

A bril­liant stu­dent and tal­ent­ed artist, he came home after fight­ing in World War I and became a lead­ing expo­nent in Italy of the Dada move­ment, which, like Evola, reject­ed the church and bour­geois insti­tu­tions.

Evola’s ear­ly artis­tic endeav­ors gave way to his love of the Ger­man philoso­pher Friedrich Niet­zsche, and he devel­oped a world­view with an over­rid­ing ani­mos­i­ty toward the deca­dence of moder­ni­ty. Influ­enced by mys­ti­cal works and the occult, Evola began devel­op­ing an idea of the individual’s abil­i­ty to tran­scend his real­i­ty and “be uncon­di­tion­al­ly what­ev­er one wants.”

Under the influ­ence of René Guénon, a French meta­physi­cist and con­vert to Islam, Evola in 1934 pub­lished his most influ­en­tial work, “The Revolt Against the Mod­ern World,” which cast mate­ri­al­ism as an erod­ing influ­ence on ancient val­ues.

It viewed human­ism, the Renais­sance, the Protes­tant Ref­or­ma­tion and the French Rev­o­lu­tion all as his­tor­i­cal dis­as­ters that took man fur­ther away from a tran­scen­den­tal peren­ni­al truth.

Chang­ing the sys­tem, Evola argued, was “not a ques­tion of con­test­ing and polemi­ciz­ing, but of blow­ing every­thing up.” . . . .

1d. It’s time for anoth­er peek into Steve Bannon’s psy­che. Which unfor­tu­nate­ly means we have to take anoth­er peek into far-right hate lit­er­a­ture.

“. . . . The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Rev­e­la­tion 20:9is noth­ing less than a call to arms for the white Chris­t­ian West, to revive the spir­it of the Cru­sades and steel itself for bloody con­flict against the poor black and brown world with­out and the trai­tors with­in. The novel’s last line links past humil­i­a­tions tight­ly to its own grim para­ble about mod­ern migra­tion. ‘The Fall of Con­stan­tino­ple,’ Raspail’s unnamed nar­ra­tor says, ‘is a per­son­al mis­for­tune that hap­pened to all of us only last week.’ . . . . ”

“This Stun­ning­ly Racist French Nov­el Is How Steve Ban­non Explains The World” by Paul Blu­men­thal and JM Rieger; The Huff­in­g­ton Post; 3/04/2017.

“The Camp of the Saints” tells a grotesque tale about a migrant inva­sion to destroy West­ern civ­i­liza­tion.

Stephen Ban­non, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s chief strate­gist and the dri­ving force behind the administration’s con­tro­ver­sial ban on trav­el­ers, has a favorite metaphor he uses to describe the largest refugee cri­sis in human his­to­ry.

It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type inva­sion into Cen­tral and then West­ern and North­ern Europe,” he said in Octo­ber 2015.

“The whole thing in Europe is all about immi­gra­tion,” he said in Jan­u­ary 2016. “It’s a glob­al issue today — this kind of glob­al Camp of the Saints.”

“It’s not a migra­tion,” he said lat­er that Jan­u­ary. “It’s real­ly an inva­sion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”

“When we first start­ed talk­ing about this a year ago,” he said in April 2016, “we called it the Camp of the Saints. … I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?”

Ban­non has agi­tat­ed for a host of anti-immi­grant mea­sures. In his pre­vi­ous role as exec­u­tive chair­man of the right-wing news site Bre­it­bart — which he called a “plat­form for the alt-right,” the online move­ment of white nation­al­ists — he made anti-immi­grant and anti-Mus­lim news a focus.

But the top Trump aide’s repeat­ed ref­er­ences to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 nov­el by French author Jean Ras­pail, reveal even more about how he under­stands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s nev­er found a wider audi­ence. There’s a good rea­son for that: It’s breath­tak­ing­ly racist.

“[This book is] racist in the lit­er­al sense of the term. It uses race as the main char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of char­ac­ters,” said Cécile Alduy, pro­fes­sor of French at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty and an expert on the con­tem­po­rary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immi­grants that wash ashore like the plague.”

The book, she said, “reframes every­thing as the fight to death between races.”

Upon the novel’s release in the Unit­ed States in 1975, the influ­en­tial book review mag­a­zine Kirkus Reviews pulled no punch­es: “The pub­lish­ers are pre­sent­ing The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it prob­a­bly is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”

Lin­da Chavez, a Repub­li­can com­men­ta­tor who has worked for GOP pres­i­dents from Ronald Rea­gan to George W. Bush but opposed Trump’s elec­tion, also reviewed the book back then. Forty years lat­er, she hasn’t for­got­ten it.

“It is real­ly shock­ing­ly racist,” Chavez told The Huff­in­g­ton Post, “and to have the coun­selor to the pres­i­dent see this as one of his touch­stones, I think, says vol­umes about his atti­tude.”

The plot of The Camp of the Saints fol­lows a poor Indi­an dem­a­gogue, named “the turd-eater” because he lit­er­al­ly eats sh it, and the deformed, appar­ent­ly psy­chic child who sits on his shoul­ders. Togeth­er, they lead an “arma­da” of 800,000 impov­er­ished Indi­ans sail­ing to France. Dither­ing Euro­pean politi­cians, bureau­crats and reli­gious lead­ers, includ­ing a lib­er­al pope from Latin Amer­i­ca, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indi­ans or to do the right thing — in the book’s vision — by rec­og­niz­ing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all.

The non-white peo­ple of Earth, mean­while, wait silent­ly for the Indi­ans to reach shore. The land­ing will be the sig­nal for them to rise up every­where and over­throw white West­ern soci­ety.

The French gov­ern­ment even­tu­al­ly gives the order to repel the arma­da by force, but by then the mil­i­tary has lost the will to fight. Troops bat­tle among them­selves as the Indi­ans stream on shore, tram­pling to death the left-wing rad­i­cals who came to wel­come them. Poor black and brown peo­ple lit­er­al­ly over­run West­ern civ­i­liza­tion. Chi­nese peo­ple pour into Rus­sia; the queen of Eng­land is forced to mar­ry her son to a Pak­istani woman; the may­or of New York must house an African-Amer­i­can fam­i­ly at Gra­cie Man­sion. Raspail’s rogue heroes, the defend­ers of white Chris­t­ian suprema­cy, attempt to defend their civ­i­liza­tion with guns blaz­ing but are killed in the process.

Calgues, the obvi­ous Ras­pail stand-in, is one of those tak­ing up arms against the migrants and their cul­tur­al­ly “cuck­old­ed” white sup­port­ers. Just before killing a rad­i­cal hip­pie, Calgues com­pares his own actions to past hero­ic, some­times myth­i­cal defens­es of Euro­pean Chris­ten­dom. He harkens back to famous bat­tles that fit the clash-of-civ­i­liza­tions nar­ra­tive — the defense of Rhodes against the Ottoman Empire, the fall of Con­stan­tino­ple to the same — and glo­ri­fies colo­nial wars of con­quest and the for­ma­tion of the Ku Klux Klan.

Only white Euro­peans like Calgues are por­trayed as tru­ly human in The Camp of the Saints. The Indi­an arma­da brings “thou­sands of wretched crea­tures” whose very bod­ies arouse dis­gust: “Scrag­gy branch­es, brown and black … All bare, those flesh­less Gand­hi-arms.” Poor brown chil­dren are spoiled fruit “start­ing to rot, all wormy inside, or turned so you can’t see the mold.”

The ship’s inhab­i­tants are also sex­u­al deviants who turn the voy­age into a grotesque orgy. “Every­where, rivers of sperm,” Ras­pail writes. “Stream­ing over bod­ies, ooz­ing between breasts, and but­tocks, and thighs, and lips, and fin­gers.”

The white Chris­t­ian world is on the brink of destruc­tion, the nov­el sug­gests, because these black and brown peo­ple are more fer­tile and more numer­ous, while the West has lost that nec­es­sary belief in its own cul­tur­al and racial supe­ri­or­i­ty. As he talks to the hip­pie he will soon kill, Calgues explains how the youth went so wrong: “That scorn of a peo­ple for oth­er races, the knowl­edge that one’s own is best, the tri­umphant joy at feel­ing one­self to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these young­sters’ addled brains.”

The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Rev­e­la­tion 20:9 — is noth­ing less than a call to arms for the white Chris­t­ian West, to revive the spir­it of the Cru­sades and steel itself for bloody con­flict against the poor black and brown world with­out and the trai­tors with­in. The novel’s last line links past humil­i­a­tions tight­ly to its own grim para­ble about mod­ern migra­tion. “The Fall of Con­stan­tino­ple,” Raspail’s unnamed nar­ra­tor says, “is a per­son­al mis­for­tune that hap­pened to all of us only last week.”

Ras­pail wrote The Camp of the Saints in 1972 and 1973, after a stay at his aunt’s house near Cannes on the south­ern coast of France. Look­ing out across the Mediter­ranean, he had an epiphany: “And what if they came?” he thought to him­self. “This ‘they’ was not clear­ly defined at first,” he told the con­ser­v­a­tive pub­li­ca­tion Le Point in 2015. “Then I imag­ined that the Third World would rush into this blessed coun­try that is France.”

Raspail’s nov­el has been pub­lished in the U.S. sev­er­al times, each time with the back­ing of the anti-immi­gra­tion move­ment.

The U.S. pub­lish­ing house Scrib­n­er was the first to trans­late the book into Eng­lish in 1975, but it failed to reach a wide audi­ence amid with­er­ing reviews by crit­ics. A rare favor­able take appeared in Nation­al Review. “Ras­pail brings his read­er to the sur­pris­ing con­clu­sion that killing a mil­lion or so starv­ing refugees from India would be a supreme act of indi­vid­ual san­i­ty and cul­tur­al health,” then-Dart­mouth pro­fes­sor Jef­frey Hart wrote in 1975. “Ras­pail is to geno­cide what [D.H. Lawrence] was to sex.” Hart added that “a great fuss” was being made over “Raspail’s sup­posed racism,” but that the “lib­er­al rote anath­e­ma on ‘racism’ is in effect a poi­so­nous assault upon West­ern self-pref­er­ence.”

The book received a sec­ond life in 1983 when Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to the Mel­lon for­tune and sis­ter to right-wing bene­fac­tor Richard Mel­lon Scaife, fund­ed its repub­li­ca­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion. This time it gained a cult fol­low­ing among immi­gra­tion oppo­nents.

May’s mon­ey has also been instru­men­tal in fund­ing the efforts of John Tan­ton, the god­fa­ther of the anti-immi­gra­tion move­ment in the U.S. Tan­ton, who began as an envi­ron­men­tal­ist and pop­u­la­tion con­trol pro­po­nent, found­ed a host of groups focused on restrict­ing immi­gra­tion, includ­ing the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, the Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies, Num­ber­sUSA and U.S. Eng­lish. May’s for­tune has fueled these groups with tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in con­tri­bu­tions over the years.

Lin­da Chavez was recruit­ed in 1987 to head U.S. Eng­lish, which advo­cates for Eng­lish to be des­ig­nat­ed the country’s offi­cial lan­guage. But then a series of dis­turb­ing sto­ries paint­ed Tanton’s motives in a racial light. Among oth­er issues, Chavez said she learned that his fund­ing came from the pro-eugen­ics Pio­neer Fund and from May, who Chavez knew had helped pub­lish The Camp of the Saints. Chavez recalled see­ing Tanton’s staffers car­ry­ing the book around their offices. She quit the group.

Tan­ton, who insists his oppo­si­tion to immi­gra­tion is not con­nect­ed to race at all, told The Wash­ing­ton Post in 2006 that his mind “became focused” on the issue after read­ing The Camp of the Saints. In 1995, his small pub­lish­ing house, Social Con­tract Press, brought the book back into print for a third time in the U.S., again with fund­ing from May. His­to­ri­ans Paul Kennedy and Matt Con­nel­ly tied the book to then-cur­rent con­cerns about glob­al demo­graph­ic trends in a cov­er sto­ry for The Atlantic.

“Over the years the Amer­i­can pub­lic has absorbed a great num­ber of books, arti­cles, poems and films which exalt the immi­grant expe­ri­ence,” Tan­ton wrote in 1994. “It is easy for the feel­ings evoked by Ellis Island and the Stat­ue of Lib­er­ty to obscure the fact that we are cur­rent­ly receiv­ing too many immi­grants (and receiv­ing them too fast) for the health of our envi­ron­ment and of our com­mon cul­ture. Ras­pail evokes dif­fer­ent feel­ings and that may help to pave the way for pol­i­cy changes.”

In 2001, the book was repub­lished one more time, again by Tan­ton, and again gained a cult fol­low­ing among oppo­nents of immi­gra­tion like the bor­der-patrolling Min­ute­men and even­tu­al­ly the online “alt-right.”

Bannon’s alt-right-lov­ing Bre­it­bart has run mul­ti­ple arti­cles over the past three years ref­er­enc­ing the nov­el. When Pope Fran­cis told a joint ses­sion of Con­gress that the U.S. should open its arms to refugees in Sep­tem­ber 2015, Breitbart’s Julia Hahn, now an aide to Ban­non in the White House, com­pared his admo­ni­tion to Raspail’s lib­er­al Latin Amer­i­can pon­tiff. And the novel’s the­sis that migra­tion is inva­sion in dis­guise is often reflect­ed in Bannon’s pub­lic com­ments.

The refugee cri­sis “didn’t just hap­pen by hap­pen­stance,” Ban­non said in an April 2016 radio inter­view with Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, who now works for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil. “These are not war refugees. It’s some­thing much more insid­i­ous going on.”

Ban­non has also echoed the novel’s the­o­ry that sec­u­lar lib­er­als who favor immi­gra­tion and diver­si­ty weak­en the West.

Now Ban­non sits at the right hand of the U.S. pres­i­dent, work­ing to beat back what Ban­non calls “this Mus­lim inva­sion.” And Trump is all in on the project. Dur­ing the cam­paign, he called for a ban on all Mus­lims enter­ing the coun­try. His Jan. 28 exec­u­tive order, since blocked in the courts, turned this cam­paign idea into exec­u­tive pol­i­cy.

Trump has con­tin­ued to defend the exec­u­tive order as a life-or-death nation­al secu­ri­ty issue. “We can­not allow a beach­head of ter­ror­ism to form inside Amer­i­ca,” he said in his first speech to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress on Tues­day.

Five days ear­li­er, Trump had called his immi­gra­tion enforce­ment efforts a “mil­i­tary oper­a­tion.”

Although Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty offi­cials walked back that state­ment, the president’s con­fla­tion of immi­gra­tion with war­fare did not go unno­ticed.

“They see this as a war,” Chavez said.

Chavez, who sup­ports some of Trump’s eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy pro­pos­als, called the direc­tion the White House is tak­ing on immi­gra­tion and race “extreme­ly dan­ger­ous.” She said Trump’s immi­gra­tion moves are “a kind of purg­ing of Amer­i­ca of any­thing but our North­ern Euro­pean roots.” Ban­non, she added, “wants to make Amer­i­ca white again.”

1e. In FTR #947, we high­light­ed Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, a Bre­it­bart alum­nus and Hun­gar­i­an fas­cist. Gor­ka is now the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s point man work­ing against ter­ror­ism. His view (and Ban­non’s) that we are engaged in an his­toric clash of civ­i­liza­tions. That is pre­cise­ly the point of view expressed by ISIS (and The Camp of the Saints) and will play into their hands.

That, in turn, will help pro­pel the U.S. into more end­less wars on the periph­ery of our empire, ulti­mate­ly sap­ping the nation’s vital­i­ty and lead­ing to the fall of the U.S. in a man­ner delin­eat­ed in FTR #944.

“The Islam­o­pho­bic Huck­ster in the White House” by Steven Simon and Daniel Ben­jamin; The New York Times; 2/24/2017.

The new point man for the Trump administration’s counter­jihadist team is Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, an itin­er­ant instruc­tor in the doc­trine of irreg­u­lar war­fare and for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor at Bre­it­bart. Stephen K. Ban­non and Stephen Miller, the chief com­mis­sars of the Trump White House, have framed Islam as an ene­my ide­ol­o­gy and pre­dict­ed a his­toric clash of civ­i­liza­tions.

Mr. Gor­ka, who has been appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent, is the expert they have empow­ered to trans­late their pre­dic­tion into nation­al strat­e­gy. Mr. Gor­ka was born and raised in Britain, the son of Hun­gar­i­an émi­grés. As a polit­i­cal con­sul­tant in post ­Com­mu­nist Hun­gary, he acquired a doc­tor­ate and involved him­self with ultra­na­tion­al­ist pol­i­tics. He lat­er moved to the Unit­ed States and became a cit­i­zen five years ago, while build­ing a career mod­er­at­ing mil­i­tary sem­i­nars and estab­lish­ing a rep­u­ta­tion as an ill-­in­formed Islam­o­phobe. (He has respond­ed to such claims by stat­ing that he has read the Quran in trans­la­tion.) . . .

2a. Sup­ple­ment­ing infor­ma­tion about Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka pre­sent­ed in FTR #948, we note that he is, indeed a mem­ber of the Order of Vitezi Rend, a recon­sti­tut­ed Hun­gar­i­an fas­cist order.

“EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Aide Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka as Mem­ber” by Lily Bay­er and Lar­ry Cohler-Ess­es; For­ward; 3/16/2017.

Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, Pres­i­dent Trump’s top counter-ter­ror­ism advis­er, is a for­mal mem­ber of a Hun­gar­i­an far-right group that is list­ed by the U.S. State Depart­ment as hav­ing been “under the direc­tion of the Nazi Gov­ern­ment of Ger­many” dur­ing World War II, lead­ers of the orga­ni­za­tion have told the For­ward.

The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was estab­lished as a loy­al­ist group by Admi­ral Mik­los Hor­thy, who ruled Hun­gary as a staunch nation­al­ist from 1920 to Octo­ber 1944. A self-con­fessed anti-Semi­te, Hor­thy imposed restric­tive Jew­ish laws pri­or to World War II and col­lab­o­rat­ed with Hitler dur­ing the con­flict. His coop­er­a­tion with the Nazi regime includ­ed the depor­ta­tion of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews into Nazi hands.

Gorka’s mem­ber­ship in the orga­ni­za­tion — if these Vitézi Rend lead­ers are cor­rect, and if Gor­ka did not dis­close this when he entered the Unit­ed States as an immi­grant — could have impli­ca­tions for his immi­gra­tion sta­tus. The State Department’s For­eign Affairs Man­u­al spec­i­fies that mem­bers of the Vitézi Rend “are pre­sumed to be inad­mis­si­ble” to the coun­try under the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act.

Gor­ka — who Vitézi Rend lead­ers say took a life­long oath of loy­al­ty to their group — did not respond to mul­ti­ple emails sent to his work and per­son­al accounts, ask­ing whether he is a mem­ber of the Vitézi Rend and, if so, whether he dis­closed this on his immi­gra­tion appli­ca­tion and on his appli­ca­tion to be nat­u­ral­ized as a U.S. cit­i­zen in 2012. The White House also did not respond to a request for com­ment.

But Bruce Ein­horn, a retired immi­gra­tion judge who now teach­es nation­al­i­ty law at Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­si­ty, said of this, “His silence speaks vol­umes.”

The group to which Gor­ka report­ed­ly belongs is a recon­sti­tu­tion of the orig­i­nal group on the State Depart­ment list, which was banned in Hun­gary until the fall of Com­mu­nism in 1989. There are now two orga­ni­za­tions in Hun­gary that claim to be the heirs of the orig­i­nal Vitézi Rend, with Gor­ka, accord­ing to fel­low mem­bers, belong­ing to the so-called “His­tor­i­cal Vitézi Rend.” Though it is not known to engage in vio­lence, the His­tor­i­cal Vitézi Rend upholds all the nation­al­ist and often­times racial prin­ci­ples of the orig­i­nal group as estab­lished by Hor­thy. . . .

2b. It should sur­prise no one to learn that Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka has a long and exten­sive rela­tion­ship with the Hun­gar­i­an far-right, includ­ing found­ing a Hun­gar­i­an polit­i­cal par­ty with two promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik. In FTR #947, we not­ed that a mem­ber of Job­bik had writ­ten a glow­ing pref­ace to a vol­ume authored by fas­cist ide­o­logue Julius Evola, one of the philo­soph­i­cal iflu­ences on Stephen Ban­non.

We note that Gor­ka is a mem­ber of what appears to be a par­al­lel NSC, The Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. They may well be in a posi­tion to imple­ment the shock to the sys­tem hoped for by Ban­non, Evola, Yarvin et al.

“Exclu­sive: Senior Trump Aide Forged Key Ties To Anti-Semit­ic Groups In Hun­gary” by Lili Bay­er; For­ward; 2/24/2017.

When pho­tographs recent­ly emerged show­ing Sebas­t­ian Gor­ka, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s high-pro­file deputy assis­tant, wear­ing a medal asso­ci­at­ed with the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist regime that ruled Hun­gary dur­ing World War II, the con­tro­ver­sial secu­ri­ty strate­gist was unapolo­getic.

“I’m a proud Amer­i­can now and I wear that medal now and again,” Gor­ka told Bre­it­bart News. Gor­ka, 46, who was born in Britain to Hun­gar­i­an par­ents and is now an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, asked rhetor­i­cal­ly, “Why? To remind myself of where I came from, what my par­ents suf­fered under both the Nazis and the Com­mu­nists, and to help me in my work today.”

But an inves­ti­ga­tion by the For­ward into Gorka’s activ­i­ties from 2002 to 2007, while he was active in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and jour­nal­ism, found that he had close ties then to Hun­gar­i­an far-right cir­cles, and has in the past cho­sen to work with open­ly racist and anti-Semit­ic groups and pub­lic fig­ures.

Gorka’s involve­ment with the far right includes co-found­ing a polit­i­cal par­ty with for­mer promi­nent mem­bers of Job­bik, a polit­i­cal par­ty with a well-known his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism; repeat­ed­ly pub­lish­ing arti­cles in a news­pa­per known for its anti-Semit­ic and racist con­tent; and attend­ing events with some of Hungary’s most noto­ri­ous extreme-right fig­ures.

When Gor­ka was asked — in an email exchange with the For­ward — about the anti-Semit­ic records of some of the groups and indi­vid­u­als he has worked with, he instead piv­ot­ed to talk about his family’s his­to­ry.

“My par­ents, as chil­dren, lived through the night­mare of WWII and the hor­rors of the Nyi­las pup­pet fas­cist regime,” he said, refer­ring to the Arrow Cross regime that took over Hun­gary near the very end of World War II and mur­dered thou­sands of Jews.

In the Unit­ed States, Gor­ka, who was appoint­ed deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent on Jan­u­ary 20, is known as a tele­vi­sion com­men­ta­tor, a pro­fes­sor and an “alt-right” writer who describes him­self as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism expert. A close asso­ciate of Stephen Ban­non, Trump’s chief strate­gist, Gor­ka is now part of Bannon’s key in-house White House think tank, the Strate­gic Ini­tia­tives Group. The new­ly formed group con­sists of fig­ures close to Trump and is seen by some as a rival to the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil in for­mu­lat­ing poli­cies for the pres­i­dent.

Gor­ka, who views Islam as a reli­gion with an inher­ent predilec­tion for mil­i­tan­cy, has strong sup­port­ers among some right-lean­ing think tanks in Wash­ing­ton. “Dr. Gor­ka is one of the most knowl­edge­able, well-read and stud­ied experts on nation­al secu­ri­ty that I’ve ever met,” Joseph Humire, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, told the For­ward. Humire has known Gor­ka for near­ly a decade, and con­sid­ers him “top-notch.”

Born in Lon­don to par­ents who fled Hungary’s post-World War II Com­mu­nist regime, Gor­ka has had a career that’s marked by fre­quent job changes and shift­ing nation­al alle­giances. The U.S. gov­ern­ment is the third sov­er­eign state to hire him in a nation­al secu­ri­ty role. As a young man, he was a mem­ber of the Unit­ed Kingdom’s Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army reserves, where he served in the Intel­li­gence Corps. Then, fol­low­ing the fall of Com­mu­nism in Hun­gary, he was employed in 1992 by the country’s Min­istry of Defense. He worked there for five years, appar­ent­ly on issues relat­ed to Hungary’s acces­sion to NATO.

Gorka’s mar­riage in 1996 to an Amer­i­can, Katharine Cor­nell, an heir to Penn­syl­va­nia-based Cor­nell Iron Works, helped him become a U.S. cit­i­zen in 2012.

A Web of Deep Ties to Hungary’s Far Right

It was dur­ing his time in Hun­gary that Gor­ka devel­oped ties to the country’s anti-Semit­ic and ultra­na­tion­al­ist far right.

Dur­ing large-scale anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions in Hun­gary in 2006, Gor­ka took on an active role, becom­ing close­ly involved with a protest group called the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee (Mag­yar Nemzeti Bizottság). Gor­ka took on the roles of trans­la­tor, press coor­di­na­tor and advis­er for the group.

Among the four Com­mit­tee mem­bers named as the group’s polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives was Lás­zló Toroczkai, then head of the 64 Coun­ties Youth Move­ment. Toroczkai found­ed that group in 2001 to advo­cate for the return of parts of mod­ern-day Ser­bia, Slo­va­kia, Roma­nia and Ukraine to form a Greater Hun­gary, restor­ing the country’s pre-World War I bor­ders.

In 2004, two years before the Movement’s involve­ment in the 2006 protests, Hun­gar­i­an author­i­ties opened an inves­ti­ga­tion into the Movement’s news­pa­per, Mag­yar Jelen, when an arti­cle referred to Jews as “Gali­cian upstarts” and went on to argue: “We should get them out. In fact, we need to take back our coun­try from them, take back our stolen for­tunes. After all, these upstarts are suck­ing on our blood, get­ting rich off our blood.” At the time of the article’s pub­li­ca­tion, Toroczkai was both an edi­tor at the paper and the Movement’s offi­cial leader.
Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.
Toroczkai cur­rent­ly serves as vice pres­i­dent of Job­bik and is the may­or of a vil­lage near the bor­der Hun­gary shares with Ser­bia. Last year, he gained noto­ri­ety in the West for declar­ing a goal of ban­ning Mus­lims and gays from his town.

In Jan­u­ary 2007, inspired by the 2006 protests and his expe­ri­ence with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Gor­ka announced plans to form a new polit­i­cal par­ty, to be known as the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion. Gor­ka had pre­vi­ous­ly served as an advis­er to Vik­tor Orbán, now Hungary’s right-wing nation­al­ist prime min­is­ter. But fol­low­ing Orbán’s failed attempts to bring down Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, Gor­ka grew dis­en­chant­ed with Orbán’s Fidesz par­ty.

In his email exchange with the For­ward for this arti­cle, Gor­ka explained: “The Coali­tion was estab­lished in direct response to the unhealthy pat­terns vis­i­ble at the time in Hun­gar­i­an con­ser­v­a­tive pol­i­tics. It became appar­ent to me that the effect of decades of Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship had tak­en a deep­er toll on civ­il soci­ety than was expect­ed.”

Gor­ka co-found­ed his polit­i­cal par­ty with three oth­er politi­cians. Two of his co-founders, Tamás Mol­nár and Atti­la Bégány, were for­mer mem­bers of Job­bik. Mol­nár, a senior Job­bik politi­cian, served as the party’s vice pres­i­dent until short­ly before join­ing Gorka’s new ini­tia­tive, and was also a mem­ber of the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee dur­ing the 2006 protests, issu­ing state­ments togeth­er with extrem­ist mil­i­tant fig­ures such as Toroczkai.

Job­bik has a long his­to­ry of anti-Semi­tism. In 2006, when Gorka’s polit­i­cal allies were still mem­bers of Job­bik, the party’s offi­cial online blog includ­ed arti­cles such as “The Roots of Jew­ish Ter­ror­ism” and “Where Were the Jews in 1956?”, a ref­er­ence to the country’s rev­o­lu­tion against Sovi­et rule. In one speech in 2010, Job­bik leader Gabor Vona said that “under com­mu­nism we licked Moscow’s boots, now we lick Brus­sels’ and Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s.”

In found­ing the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion, Gor­ka and the for­mer Job­bik politi­cians aimed to rep­re­sent “con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues, decid­ed­ly stand­ing up to cor­rup­tion and bring­ing Chris­tian­i­ty into the Con­sti­tu­tion,” accord­ing to the party’s orig­i­nal pol­i­cy pro­gram. At the time, Hungary’s con­sti­tu­tion was sec­u­lar.

The party’s founders did not see them­selves as far right or anti-Semit­ic.

“I knew Gor­ka as a strong­ly Atlanti­cist, con­ser­v­a­tive per­son,” Mol­nár, the for­mer Job­bik vice pres­i­dent and co-founder of Gorka’s par­ty, told the For­ward in a phone con­ver­sa­tion. He added that he could not imag­ine Gor­ka hav­ing anti-Semit­ic views.

Mol­nár first met Gor­ka at a book launch event for Gorka’s father, Pál Gor­ka, in 2002. The younger Gor­ka and Mol­nár became friends, bond­ing over their shared inter­est in the his­to­ry of Hungary’s 1956 rev­o­lu­tion and the fact that both had par­ents who were jailed under the country’s Com­mu­nist regime.

Mol­nár became involved with Job­bik in 2003, in the far-right party’s ear­ly days, and quit in 2006. In his words, “Job­bik went in a mil­i­tant direc­tion that I did not like.”

Gor­ka rejects the notion that he knew any of his polit­i­cal allies had con­nec­tions to the far right.

“I only knew Mol­nár as an artist and Bégány as a for­mer con­ser­v­a­tive local politi­cian (MDF if I recall),” Gor­ka wrote in response to a ques­tion regard­ing the Job­bik affil­i­a­tions of his for­mer par­ty co-founders. “What they did after I left Hun­gary is not some­thing I fol­lowed.” (MDF is an acronym for the Hun­gar­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forum, a now-defunct cen­ter-right par­ty.)

In fact, both Mol­nár and Bégány were mem­bers of Job­bik before, and not after, they found­ed the new par­ty with Gor­ka. Mol­nár was Jobbik’s high-pro­file vice pres­i­dent until Sep­tem­ber 2006, before he, Gor­ka and Bégány launched the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Coali­tion in ear­ly 2007.

Gor­ka appeared at a press con­fer­ence with Mol­nár on Sep­tem­ber 21, 2006 — one day after Mol­nár resigned his posi­tion as Jobbik’s vice pres­i­dent. Gor­ka was also pho­tographed on Sep­tem­ber 23, 2006, wear­ing a badge with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s logo as he was stand­ing next to Mol­nár at a podi­um while Mol­nár briefed the press on the Committee’s activ­i­ties. At the time Gor­ka was mak­ing these pub­lic appear­ances with the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Committee’s lead­er­ship, extreme-right leader Toroczkai was already a top mem­ber of the Com­mit­tee.

Bégány, mean­while, had indeed been a mem­ber of MDF for a time, but in 2005 he joined Job­bik and served for­mal­ly as a mem­ber of Budapest’s Dis­trict 5 Coun­cil rep­re­sent­ing the far-right par­ty. Bégány’s for­mal par­ty biog­ra­phy, post­ed on the Job­bik web­site in 2006, said it is his “belief that with­out belong­ing to the Hun­gar­i­an nation or to God it is pos­si­ble to live, but not worth it.” Like Mol­nár, Bégány left Job­bik only a few months before start­ing the new par­ty with Gor­ka.

Mol­nár, Bégány and the Hun­gar­i­an Nation­al Com­mit­tee were not Gorka’s only con­nec­tion to far-right cir­cles. Between 2006 and 2007, Gor­ka wrote a series of arti­cles in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, a news­pa­per known for pub­lish­ing the writ­ings of promi­nent anti-Semit­ic and racist Hun­gar­i­an pub­lic fig­ures.

The newspaper’s edi­tor-in-chief, András Benc­sik, is noto­ri­ous in Hun­gary for his own long-stand­ing anti-Semit­ic views. In 1995, the Hun­gar­i­an Jew­ish pub­li­ca­tion Szom­bat crit­i­cized Benc­sik for writ­ing that “the sol­id cap­i­tal, which the Jews got after Auschwitz, has run out.” That same year, Szom­bat not­ed, Benc­sik wrote in Mag­yar Demokra­ta, “In Hun­gary the chief con­flict is between nation­al and cos­mopoli­tan aspi­ra­tions.” In Hun­gar­i­an soci­ety, “cos­mopoli­tan” is gen­er­al­ly a code word for Jews.

In Decem­ber 2004, the U.S. State Depart­ment report­ed blunt­ly to Con­gress that, “the week­ly news­pa­per Mag­yar Demokra­ta pub­lished anti-Semit­ic arti­cles and fea­tured arti­cles by authors who have denied the Holo­caust.”

In the sum­mer of 2007, Benc­sik became one of the founders of the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, a now-banned para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion known for assault­ing and intim­i­dat­ing mem­bers of Hungary’s Roma com­mu­ni­ty. The per­pe­tra­tors in a spate of racial­ly moti­vat­ed mur­ders of Roma in 2008 and 2009 were found to have con­nec­tions to the Guard.

Gorka’s arti­cles for Mag­yar Demokra­ta focused not only on decry­ing Hungary’s then-Social­ist gov­ern­ment, but also on high­light­ing the per­ceived injus­tices of the Treaty of Ver­sailles, the post-World War I agree­ment that led to the loss of two-thirds of pre­war Hungary’s ter­ri­to­ry.

“We fought on the wrong side of a war for which we were not respon­si­ble, and were pun­ished to an extent that was like­ly even more unjust — with the excep­tion of the dis­mem­ber­ment of the Ottoman Empire — than any oth­er pun­ish­ment in the mod­ern age,” Gor­ka wrote in a 2006 arti­cle in Mag­yar Demokra­ta.

Asked about his choice of jour­nal­is­tic out­lets, Gor­ka wrote, “I am […] unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik. I believe it was one of his col­leagues who asked me if I want­ed to write some OpE­ds.” Gor­ka told the For­ward that his writ­ing at the time shows “how every­thing I did was in the inter­ests of a more trans­par­ent and healthy democ­ra­cy in Hun­gary. This includ­ed a rejec­tion of all revan­chist ten­den­cies and xeno­pho­bic cliques.”

Gorka’s claim to be unfa­mil­iar with Benc­sik must be weighed against his deep immer­sion in Hun­gar­i­an pol­i­tics and Benscik’s sta­tus as a major fig­ure in Hungary’s right-wing polit­i­cal scene. At the time, Gor­ka gave pub­lic inter­views as an “expert” on the Hun­gar­i­an Guard, which Benc­sik helped to found. In one 2007 inter­view, Gor­ka clar­i­fied his own view of the Guard, say­ing, “It’s not worth talk­ing about ban­ning” the group. Despite its extreme rhetoric against minori­ties, Gor­ka said, “The gov­ern­ment and media are inflat­ing this ques­tion.”

An Affin­i­ty for Nation­al­ist Sym­bols

It was in mid-Feb­ru­ary that Gorka’s affin­i­ty for Hun­gar­i­an nation­al­ist and far-right ideas first came to the Amer­i­can public’s atten­tion. Eli Clifton of the news web­site Lobel­og noticed from a pho­to­graph that the new deputy assis­tant to the pres­i­dent had appeared at an inau­gu­ra­tion ball in Jan­u­ary wear­ing a Hun­gar­i­an medal known as Vitézi Rend. The medal sig­ni­fies a knight­ly order of mer­it found­ed in 1920 by Admi­ral Mik­los Hor­thy, Hungary’s long­time anti-Semit­ic ruler and Hitler’s ally dur­ing World War II. Notwith­stand­ing this alliance, and the group’s des­ig­na­tion as Nazi-col­lab­o­ra­tors by the U.S. State Depart­ment, many with­in Hungary’s right revere Hor­thy for his staunch nation­al­ism dur­ing the over­all course of his rule from 1920 to 1944.

Bre­it­bart, the “alt-right” pub­li­ca­tion, where Gor­ka him­self served as nation­al secu­ri­ty edi­tor pri­or to join­ing the White House staff, defend­ed his wardrobe choice, writ­ing on Feb­ru­ary 14 that, “as any of his Bre­it­bart News col­leagues could tes­ti­fy, Gor­ka is not only pro-Israel but ‘pro-Jew­ish,’ and defends both against the threat of rad­i­cal Islam­ic ter­ror­ism.”

“In 1979 my father was award­ed a dec­la­ra­tion for his resis­tance to a dic­ta­tor­ship, and although he passed away 14 years ago, I wear that medal in remem­brance of what my fam­i­ly went through and what it rep­re­sents today, to me, as an Amer­i­can,” Gor­ka told Breibart on Feb­ru­ary 15, as the con­tro­ver­sy regard­ing his choice to wear a Hor­thy-era medal inten­si­fied.

But the medal was not the first time Gor­ka expressed appre­ci­a­tion for sym­bols that many asso­ciate with Hungary’s World War II-era Nazi sym­pa­thiz­ers. In 2006, Gor­ka defend­ed the use of the Arpad flag, which Hungary’s mur­der­ous Arrow Cross Par­ty used as their sym­bol. The Hun­gar­i­an Arrow Cross Par­ty killed thou­sands of Jews dur­ing World War II, shoot­ing many of them along­side the Danube Riv­er and throw­ing them into the water. Gor­ka told the news agency JTA at the time that “if you say eight cen­turies of his­to­ry can be erad­i­cat­ed by 18 months of fas­cist dis­tor­tion of sym­bols, you’re los­ing his­toric per­spec­tive.”

Gorka’s Unlike­ly Trans­for­ma­tion

After the fail­ure of his new par­ty in 2007, Gor­ka moved to the Unit­ed States and over the past 10 years has worked for the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, Marine Corps Uni­ver­si­ty, Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty, and Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Uni­ver­si­ty.

For­mer col­leagues in the States ques­tioned the qual­i­ty of Gorka’s work on Islam, and said that he shied away from pub­lish­ing in peer-reviewed jour­nals, accord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Lewis told the Post that when Gor­ka was lec­tur­ing to mem­bers of the armed forces, he “made a dif­fi­cult and com­plex sit­u­a­tion sim­ple and con­firmed the offi­cers’ prej­u­dices and assump­tions.”

But Humire, of the Cen­ter for a Secure Free Soci­ety, defend­ed Gorka’s world­view. “Since I’ve known him he has been empha­siz­ing a point that is not prop­er­ly under­stood by most con­ven­tion­al coun­tert­er­ror­ism experts,” said Humire, “that the mod­ern bat­tle­field is fought with words, images, and ideas, not just bombs and bul­lets. If you study asym­met­ric war, this empha­sizes the men­tal bat­tle of attri­tion and the moral bat­tle of legit­i­ma­cy over the phys­i­cal bat­tle for the ter­rain. Dr. Gor­ka under­stands this at a very high lev­el and has taught this to our war fight­ers for sev­er­al years,” said Humire.

3a. In FTR #941, we high­light­ed the push by Bernie Sanders and his promi­nent backer Tul­si Gab­bard to have Kei­th Elli­son, an African-Amer­i­can Mus­lim to be head of the DNC. He was not elect­ed head of the DNC, but is now deputy chair of the DNC, the posi­tion for­mer­ly held by Gab­bard.

Elli­son is net­worked with the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and the Nation of Islam as well.

We have cov­ered Far­rakhan’s high­ly sus­pi­cious behav­ior in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of Mal­com X, whose man­tle the then “Louis X” assumed, in FTR #21.

We have also cov­ered Far­rakhan’s out­ra­geous defense of con­tem­po­rary enslave­ment of Africans by Arabs.

“The Elli­son Decep­tion” by Jared Israel [edit­ed by Saman­tha Criscione]; The Emper­or’s New Clothes; 1/30/2017.

 . . . . If you are like most peo­ple, you prob­a­bly don’t know much about Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, but after you read what I have post­ed below, you will see that describ­ing it as “rad­i­cal black Mus­lims” triv­i­al­izes the hor­ror of an appa­ra­tus of fas­cists – pho­to­graph­ic neg­a­tive images of David Duke and com­pa­ny – thus sup­port­ing the impres­sion, which David Corn and oth­ers wish to con­vey, that the Elli­son con­tro­ver­sy is noth­ing more than the polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed harass­ment of a pro­gres­sive politi­cian, exploit­ing some minor indis­cre­tions, long, long ago. . . .

. . . . As Pio­neer Press, the sec­ond high­est cir­cu­la­tion news­pa­per in the Min­neapo­lis-St. Paul area, report­ed in a June 21, 1998 arti­cle on Ellison’s cam­paign for the office of State rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Elli­son had been the Min­neso­ta ‘coor­di­na­tor’ [7] of the so-called Mil­lion Man March.  Giv­en that Farrakhan’s march was a Nation of Islam project, it fol­lows that the Min­neso­ta coor­di­na­tor was either a mem­ber of the Nation of Islam or so close to the NOI as to be indis­tin­guish­able from a mem­ber.  Indeed, the June 21, 1998 arti­cle states that at that time – that is, three years after Farrakhan’s march – Elli­son was a mem­ber of the Nation of Islam:“Ellison has been active in the com­mu­ni­ty, but not with­in the estab­lished DFL par­ty [the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in Min­neso­ta]. A mem­ber of the Nation of Islam, Elli­son was the coor­di­na­tor of the Min­neso­ta par­tic­i­pants in the Mil­lion Man March and the sub­se­quent com­mu­ni­ty group that formed.” [See foot­note 7]

In the next arti­cle in this series, I will present hard evi­dence that Elli­son was already a mem­ber in 1995, when he was orga­niz­ing for Farrakhan’s march.

(Dur­ing the cur­rent debate over Ellison’s Nation of Islam ties, nobody else has men­tioned the June 21, 1998 Pio­neer Press arti­cle, let alone post­ed it on the Inter­net.  You can read it in Appen­dix I, where we have copied it for Fair Use – very fair, since it con­tains infor­ma­tion vital for assess­ing a key politi­cian.  Let’s get this infor­ma­tion out to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble!) . . . .

3b. In a point of dis­cus­sion that will be con­duct­ed at greater length in our next pro­gram, we note that anoth­er of Kei­th Ellison’s sup­port­ers to head the DNC was Faisal Gill, a Grover Norquist pro­tege whom we cov­ered in FTR #467.

“Ver­mont Elects First Mus­lim Par­ty Chair, Sends ‘Strong Mes­sage’ to Trump” by Alex Seitz-Wald; NBC News ; 3/6/2017.

“To have a Mus­lim and immi­grant to be the state par­ty chair sends a real­ly strong mes­sage to Trump and his type of pol­i­tics that this is not where the coun­try is at,” he told NBC News.

The White House released a new exec­u­tive order Mon­day restrict­ing trav­el from six Mus­lim-major­i­ty coun­tries after a fed­er­al court halt­ed an ear­li­er ver­sion. Trump says the move is nec­es­sary for secu­ri­ty, but Gill and oth­er crit­ics say it’s mere­ly an attempt to legal­ly dis­crim­i­nate against Mus­lims.

Gill is an out­sider in ultra-white, ultra-lib­er­al Ver­mont in more ways than one. In a state that is near­ly 95 per­cent white, a Pak­istani-born for­mer Repub­li­can from Vir­ginia stands out.

“Us and Wyoming keep going back and forth for least diverse,” Gill quipped.

After emi­grat­ing to the U.S. and going to law school, Gill served five years in the Navy’s JAG corps before enter­ing Repub­li­can pol­i­tics in Vir­ginia. That led to a post in the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty under George W. Bush. . . .

 

 

Discussion

7 comments for “FTR #950 Shock to the System: Further Reflections on the Breitbart Axis”

  1. True or not, about Kei­th Ellison’s ties to the peo­ple you write about him being tied to, what is on the pub­lic record is on the pub­lic record, and it does not man­ner how strong or weak these ties are. If all Kei­th Elli­son ever did was to help CAIR with a food dri­ve for poor Mus­lim chil­dren, he would be dam­aged goods, as the Repub­li­cans use that fact to tar him to the degree that it would not be pos­si­ble to get any work done even if he want­ed to. And the left talks about peo­ple vot­ing for Trump being stu­pid? Well, I think this push­ing for Kei­th Elli­son by the left shows them to be just as stu­pid.

    Posted by David | March 25, 2017, 5:46 pm
  2. The fol­low­ing is a main­stream media arti­cle (CNN) about Con­gress­man Kei­th Ellison’s ques­tion­able asso­ci­a­tion with Nation of Islam.

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/01/politics/kfile-keith-ellison-nation-of-islam/

    Rep. Kei­th Elli­son faces renewed scruti­ny over past ties to Nation of Islam, defense of anti-Semit­ic fig­ures

    (CNN)Rep. Kei­th Ellison’s past ties to the Nation of Islam and his defense of its anti-Semit­ic leader, Louis Far­rakhan, are resur­fac­ing as he cam­paigns to lead the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee.

    Elli­son, the first Mus­lim elect­ed to Con­gress, pub­licly renounced his asso­ci­a­tion with the Nation of Islam in 2006 after it became an issue dur­ing his run for Con­gress, when local Repub­li­can blog­gers began pub­lish­ing his old law school columns and pho­tos con­nect­ing him to the orga­ni­za­tion.

    “I have long since dis­tanced myself from and reject­ed the Nation of Islam due to its prop­a­ga­tion of big­ot­ed and anti-Semit­ic ideas and state­ments, as well as oth­er issues,” Elli­son wrote at the time.

    But sev­er­al out­lets have resur­faced Ellison’s past writ­ings as he runs for DNC chair, rais­ing new con­cerns about his own views and what they would mean for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty if he were to be its leader. A CNN KFile review of Ellison’s past writ­ings and pub­lic state­ments dur­ing the late 1980s through the 1990s reveal his decade-long involve­ment in the Nation of Islam and his repeat­ed defense of Far­rakhan and oth­er rad­i­cal black lead­ers against accu­sa­tions of anti-Semi­tism in columns and state­ments to the press. None of the records reviewed found exam­ples of Elli­son mak­ing any anti-Semit­ic com­ments him­self.

    Pelosi fight expos­es Demo­c­ra­t­ic fault lines, puts pow­er to check Trump in ques­tion

    In one scathing col­umn from 1990 unearthed by CNN’s KFile, Elli­son accused the uni­ver­si­ty’s pres­i­dent of chill­ing the free expres­sion of black stu­dents by open­ly crit­i­ciz­ing a con­tro­ver­sial speak­er invit­ed to speak on cam­pus by the Africana Stu­dent Cul­tur­al Cen­ter. That speak­er, Kwame Ture (also known as Stoke­ly Carmichael), had pub­licly claimed that Zion­ists had col­lab­o­rat­ed with the Nazis in World War II and has been quot­ed as say­ing “Zion­ism must be destroyed.”

    Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Pres­i­dent Nils Has­sel­mo said he “per­son­al­ly found the state­ments in Ture’s speech con­cern­ing alleged Zion­ist col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Nazis deeply offen­sive.” Elli­son, writ­ing under the name “Kei­th E. Hakim” for the Min­neso­ta Dai­ly, the stu­dent news­pa­per at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta where Elli­son attend­ed law school, argued that Has­sel­mo “denounced Ture’s com­ment with­out offer­ing any fac­tu­al refu­ta­tion of it,” and defend­ed Ture’s right to speak on cam­pus and to ques­tion Zion­ism.

    Elli­son wrote, “Con­cern­ing Zion­ism and Ture’s speech, the ASC­C’s posi­tion is sim­ply this: Whether one sup­ports or oppos­es the estab­lish­ment of Israel in Pales­tine and Israel’s present poli­cies, Zion­ism, the ide­o­log­i­cal under­gird­ing of Israel, is a debat­able polit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy. Any­one, includ­ing black peo­ple, has the right to hear and voice alter­na­tive views on the sub­ject — notwith­stand­ing our nom­i­nal cit­i­zen­ship.”

    He added, “Alter­na­tive­ly, the Uni­ver­si­ty’s posi­tion appears to be this: Polit­i­cal Zion­ism is off-lim­its no mat­ter what dubi­ous cir­cum­stances Israel was found­ed under; no mat­ter what the Zion­ists do to the Pales­tini­ans; and no mat­ter what wicked regimes Israel allies itself with — like South Africa. This posi­tion is unten­able.”

    Accord­ing to an account by the Anti-Defama­tion League, Ture said in his speech on UM’s cam­pus that “the Zion­ists joined with the Nazis in mur­der­ing Jews, so they would flee to Pales­tine.”

    Elli­son wrote oth­er columns in law school defend­ing Far­rakhan against charges of racism and argu­ing for repa­ra­tions for slav­ery.

    A spokesper­son for Elli­son told CNN that Elli­son “rejects all forms of anti-Semi­tism” and said “the right wing has been push­ing these sto­ries for years to dri­ve a wedge between Con­gress­man Elli­son and the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty.” Since announc­ing his can­di­da­cy for the DNC chair, Jew­ish groups like the Anti-Defama­tion League (ADL) and J‑Street have come to Ellison’s defense on his past asso­ci­a­tions and writ­ings.

    Ellison’s involve­ment with the Nation of Islam would con­tin­ue after he grad­u­at­ed from law school in 1990. Elli­son helped orga­nized the Min­neso­ta del­e­ga­tion to the 1995 Mil­lion Man March, which was led by Far­rakhan. The Star Tri­bune report­ed at the time that Elli­son spoke ahead of the con­tro­ver­sial Khalid Abdul Muham­mad, who was kicked out of the Nation of Islam by Far­rakhan two years ear­li­er for mak­ing bla­tant­ly anti-Semit­ic com­ments, at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta in efforts to raise funds for the Mil­lion Man March. Accord­ing to The Star Tri­bune report, Muhammed’s speech at the uni­ver­si­ty was racist, anti-Semit­ic, and homo­pho­bic.

    Ellison’s spokesper­son not­ed to CNN that “Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, Ste­vie Won­der, Maya Angelou, and many oth­ers also attend­ed the March” and said he “had no addi­tion­al involve­ment with March orga­niz­er Louis Far­rakhan or his orga­ni­za­tions, has long since denounced him, and rejects all forms of anti-Semi­tism.”

    Elli­son con­tin­ued to defend Far­rakhan against accu­sa­tions of anti-Semi­tism through­out the 1990s.

    “Min­is­ter Far­rakhan is a role mod­el for black youth,” wrote Elli­son in an Insight News op-ed in 1995. “He is not an anti-Semi­te.”

    When the then-exec­u­tive direc­tor of The Min­neapo­lis Ini­tia­tive Against Racism, Joanne Jack­son, came under fire in 1997 for alleged­ly say­ing dur­ing a forum that Jews are the most racist white peo­ple she knows and that she did not think Far­rakhan was a racist, Elli­son, who iden­ti­fied by his reli­gious name of Kei­th Elli­son-Muham­mad, defend­ed her, say­ing, “She is cor­rect about Min­is­ter Far­rakhan. He is not a racist. He is also not an anti-Semi­te.” (Elli­son would lat­er address this inci­dent in 2006, writ­ing in a let­ter to a local Jew­ish group, “While some at that meet­ing jus­ti­fied her com­ments, I spoke out in favor of increased dia­logue between the Jew­ish and African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. I believe that Ms. Jack­son’s alleged remarks were clear­ly big­ot­ed, dis­crim­i­na­to­ry sto­ry, inap­pro­pri­ate, and even ridicu­lous.”)

    In 1998, Elli­son launched a bid for Min­neso­ta state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a race he lost after fail­ing to gain the endorse­ment of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the state, known as the DFL. Both the Star-Tri­bune and Insight News iden­ti­fied Elli­son, who at time was still going by Kei­th Elli­son-Muhammed, as deeply involved in the Nation of Islam at the time. Dur­ing that race, Elli­son rebuffed any insin­u­a­tion he was, him­self, anti-Semit­ic.

    “I am opposed to the sub­ju­ga­tion of any class or per­son on account of their reli­gion, nation­al ori­gin, sex, race, or gen­der,” Elli­son said. “I reject anti-Jew­ish atti­tude from what­ev­er source.”

    At the time, Elli­son host­ed a local radio show “Black Pow­er Per­spec­tives.” The show, which aired on KMOJ radio, was host­ed by Elli­son for years under the name “Kei­th Muham­mad.”

    That same year, Elli­son was pic­tured with copies of The Final Call, the offi­cial news­pa­per of the Nation of Islam. The pic­ture, which was uncov­ered by the Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat Exposed blog in 2006, was tak­en at a ral­ly against police bru­tal­i­ty.

    “The source of this pho­to is an old right-wing attack blog whose author now regrets his writ­ings,” an Elli­son spokesman told CNN’s KFile. “He read­i­ly admits he made ‘moun­tains out of mole­hills’ and speaks favor­ably about Con­gress­man Ellison’s work.”

    Michael Brod­ko­rb, the blog­ger who uncov­ered the pho­to told CNN: “Elli­son will face new scruti­ny about his past asso­ci­a­tions, but he will have the advan­tage of bal­anc­ing this dis­cus­sion with his exten­sive work in Con­gress since being elect­ed a decade ago.”

    WASHINGTON — APRIL 17: U.S. Rep. Kei­th Elli­son (D‑MN) speaks to the Con­sul­ta­tion on Con­science held by the Reli­gious Action Cen­ter of Reform Judaism at the Can­non House Office Build­ing April 17, 2007 on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton. (Pho­to by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)

    As recent as 2000, Elli­son pub­licly defend­ed vio­lent, fringe ele­ments of the far-left. He appeared at a fundrais­er that year for domes­tic ter­ror­ist Sara Jane Olson, a mem­ber of the self-styled rev­o­lu­tion­ary group the Sym­bionese Lib­er­a­tion Army (SLA), which is best known for kid­nap­ping heiress Patri­cia Hearst. Olson was appre­hend­ed in 1999 in rela­tion to the 1975 attempt­ed bomb­ings of two police cars and the slay­ing of Myr­na Opsah dur­ing a bank rob­bery.

    At the event, Elli­son told the Pio­neer Press he believed the pros­e­cu­tion of Olson was polit­i­cal. In his speech, Elli­son not­ed he did­n’t know much about the SLA and he thought Olson was being pros­e­cut­ed in the court of pub­lic opin­ion because of some of her polit­i­cal beliefs.
    “I’m a sup­port­er of any­body who’s sub­ject to polit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion based on their being in a vil­i­fied group,” he told the Pio­neer Press. “Your chances of get­ting a fair tri­al are low. I’ve been wait­ing for the evi­dence against her. I don’t think they would not cheat to pros­e­cute this woman.”

    Elli­son also spoke favor­ably of con­vict­ed cop killer Assa­ta Shakur and expressed his oppo­si­tion to any attempt to extra­dite her to the Unit­ed States from Cuba, where she had fled after escap­ing prison.

    “I am pray­ing that Cas­tro does not get to the point where he has to real­ly barter with these guys over here because they’re going to get Assa­ta Shakur, they’re going to get a whole lot of oth­er peo­ple,” Elli­son said at the event, which also includ­ed a silent auc­tion and speech by for­mer Weath­er Under­ground leader Bernar­dine Dohrn. “I hope the Cuban peo­ple can stick to it, because the free­dom of some good decent peo­ple depends on it.”

    Oth­er promi­nent black lead­ers also opposed Shakur’s extra­di­tion at the time, includ­ing Rep. Max­ine Waters of Cal­i­for­nia when she chaired the Con­gres­sion­al Black Cau­cus.

    Dur­ing his suc­cess­ful 2006 run for Con­gress, Elli­son dis­tanced him­self from his past sup­port for the Nation of Islam and Far­rakhan when the local Repub­li­can blogs, Min­neso­ta Democ­rats Exposed and Pow­er­line Blog, uncov­ered many of Ellison’s past writ­ings.

    Elli­son pub­licly renounced the Nation of Islam in a 2006 let­ter to Jew­ish groups.

    In the let­ter, Elli­son wrote he had seen the Nation of Islam and the Mil­lion Man March as pos­i­tive effort to pro­mote respon­si­bil­i­ty and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment in the black com­mu­ni­ty and that he had failed to scru­ti­nize the views of Far­rakhan and Khalid Abdul Muham­mad and wrong­ly dis­missed con­cerns they were anti-Semit­ic.
    Dur­ing the race, Elli­son told the Wash­ing­ton Post that his polit­i­cal beliefs had mod­er­at­ed over time. While he said he nev­er said any­thing homo­pho­bic or anti-Semit­ic, he acknowl­edged he had been slow to judge those who did.
    Ellison’s work in the Min­neso­ta leg­is­la­ture, like help­ing with an ethics com­plaint against a Min­neso­ta rep­re­sen­ta­tive who denied that Nazis per­se­cut­ed gays dur­ing the Holo­caust, was able to gar­ner him the sup­port of some Jew­ish groups dur­ing his 2006 run for Con­gress. Those groups stood by him when his past com­ments on Far­rakhan sur­faced.

    “When sev­er­al local right wing blogs began attack­ing him, those in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty who know and work with Kei­th ral­lied behind him,” said Rep. Frank Horn­stein, a long­time mem­ber of Min­neso­ta’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The Amer­i­can Jew­ish World endorsed Elli­son say­ing they were” con­vinced that Elli­son has had a real change of heart and mind.”
    Speak­ing to a syn­a­gogue in 2006, Elli­son said he was con­fronting a past he was­n’t proud of.

    “I was­n’t proud of my work with the Nation of Islam,” Elli­son said, “but I was hop­ing it would­n’t come up. I have come face to face with my past.”

    After ini­tial pub­li­ca­tion of this sto­ry, a spokesper­son for Elli­son point­ed CNN’s KFile to a post by the con­gress­man on Medi­um pub­lished Wednes­day night, where he wrote, “In my effort to pur­sue jus­tice for the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty, I neglect­ed to scru­ti­nize the words of those like Khalid Muhammed and Far­rakhan who mixed a mes­sage of African Amer­i­can empow­er­ment with scape­goat­ing of oth­er com­mu­ni­ties. These men orga­nize by sow­ing hatred and divi­sion, includ­ing, anti-Semi­tism, homo­pho­bia and a chau­vin­is­tic mod­el of man­hood. I dis­avowed them long ago, con­demned their views, and apol­o­gized.”

    Min­neso­ta Dai­ly staff con­tributed research to this report.

    Posted by Joshua Goldstein | March 25, 2017, 6:19 pm
  3. Here’s the lat­est exam­ple of a con­ser­v­a­tive mega-donor turn­ing out to be a secret Nazi: Since at least 2002, Robert Rotel­la — the Belle­vue, Washington–based founder of Rotel­la Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment — has donat­ed $5.8 mil­lion to to a num­ber of lib­er­tar­i­an and con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions like the Cato Insti­tute, the Rea­son Foun­da­tion, and Turn­ing Point USA. And, of course, we’re now learn­ing that the Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion (RPRF) has been giv­ing not insignif­i­cant dona­tions to a num­ber of white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions since 2014. For exam­ple, since 2014, RPRF has donat­ed $105,000 to white nation­al­ist 0organizations like Richard Spencer’s Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute (NPI). It donat­ed $2,500 to NPI in 2014, $5,000 in 2015, and anoth­er $5,000 in 2016. The Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety, which pub­lished the ‘race science’-focused Occi­den­tal Quar­t­ly recieved $40,000 from 2013–2017. Sim­i­lar­ly, the New Cen­tu­ry Foun­da­tion, pub­lish­er of the dig­i­tal out­let Amer­i­can Renais­sance, received $35,000 dur­ing that same peri­od. And John Tan­ton’s Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR) received $17,500 since 2015.

    As the arti­cle notes, while these indi­vid­ual dona­tions, like $5,000 to NPI in a year, might not seem sig­nif­i­cant, they are actu­al­ly pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant in the world of white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions which are often oper­at­ed on rel­a­tive­ly small bud­gets. As long as some­one like Spencer can find around 20 wealthy fig­ures like Rotel­la to donate $5,000 a year that more or less cov­ers the cost of his annu­al salary which is most of the cost of run­ning NPI. Rotel­la is only the sec­ond donor to NPI ever pub­licly revealed so this is a rel­a­tive­ly rare look at the net­work of obscure fig­ures behind the financ­ing of the Alt Right.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, in addi­tion to that $105,000 for overt­ly far right groups, the RPRF also donates to a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions involved with top­ics of like UFOs, remote view­ing, and psy­chic phe­nom­e­na. This includes $35,000 to the ExoPol­i­tics insti­tute and $25,000 to the Far­sight Insti­tute. As we’ll see in the sec­ond arti­cle below, the Asso­ci­a­tion for Research and Enlight­en­ment, which appears to be based on Edgar Cayce’s teach­ings, is also a recip­i­ent. Giv­en that the far right has long as an inter­est in these top­ics it’s not par­tic­u­lar­ly sur­pris­ing that groups of this nature were also being pro­mot­ed by RPRF but it’s notable in terms of giv­ing us an idea of the who is fund­ing these move­ments.

    So while much of the financ­ing of the Alt Right and white nation­al­ist groups in the US remains hid­den, now we at least know about the Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion. A foun­da­tion that has giv­en mil­lions to main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive groups. When asked about these dona­tions to overt Nazi orga­ni­za­tions like NPI, the RPRF claims it did­n’t real­ize the polit­i­cal nature of these orga­ni­za­tions and that the dona­tions were a mis­take. The orga­ni­za­tion also claims its going to shut­down soon because the fam­i­ly lacked “the man­pow­er to do it cor­rect­ly”:

    New York Mag­a­zine
    Intel­li­gencer

    This Obscure Foun­da­tion Helped Fund The Alt-Right

    By Sarah Jones
    Feb. 18, 2020

    At first glance, Robert Rotel­la appears to be a typ­i­cal lib­er­tar­i­an donor. Through the foun­da­tion named in his hon­or, the Belle­vue, Washington–based founder of Rotel­la Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment has donat­ed mil­lions to lib­er­tar­i­an and con­ser­v­a­tive orga­ni­za­tions like the Cato Insti­tute, the Rea­son Foun­da­tion, and Turn­ing Point USA. One of his par­tic­u­lar favorites is the Insti­tute for Jus­tice. Since 2010, he has donat­ed near­ly a quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars to the group, and through it, he has helped set up a Supreme Court bat­tle with dra­mat­ic impli­ca­tions for pub­lic schools. Jus­tices heard Espinoza v. Mon­tana Depart­ment of Rev­enue on Wednes­day: the Insti­tute for Jus­tice had brought the case against the state of Mon­tana in order to force it to include reli­gious schools in its tax-cred­it schol­ar­ship pro­gram. The case has impli­ca­tions not just for the First Amend­ment but for teach­ers’ unions, who view it as yet anoth­er attempt to take pre­cious resources away from pub­lic schools.

    Rotella’s finan­cial sup­port for lib­er­tar­i­an caus­es is enough to make him a con­se­quen­tial fig­ure, but there’s anoth­er rea­son to know his name: A clos­er look at the finan­cial records of the Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion, which he man­ages along­side his sis­ter, Rose­marie, reveals that he isn’t just inter­est­ed in right-to-work laws or free enter­prise. He’s also a sig­nif­i­cant fun­der of white nation­al­ism.

    Of the $5.8 mil­lion the foun­da­tion has donat­ed to var­i­ous caus­es since 2002, rough­ly $105,000 has gone to orga­ni­za­tions like the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, or NPI, which is led by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. A com­pre­hen­sive review of the foundation’s avail­able 990 reports indi­cates that its finan­cial sup­port for white nation­al­ism began in 2014 and con­tin­ued through 2018. Though $105,000 is not an excep­tion­al­ly large sum of mon­ey, white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions are small, and it doesn’t take much mon­ey to keep them afloat. “Annu­al recur­ring dona­tions are kind of where it’s at for these guys because they all have finan­cial lim­its, imposed by fed­er­al law, on how large the dona­tions can be,” explained David Nei­w­ert, the author of Alt-Amer­i­ca: The Rise of the Rad­i­cal Right in the Age of Trump.

    “A guy like Spencer, for instance, doesn’t need a sin­gle sug­ar dad­dy to give him mon­ey,” Nei­w­ert added. “Basi­cal­ly, the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute is Spencer, and he just needs an annu­al salary. Five thou­sand dol­lars is basi­cal­ly 5 per­cent of that annu­al income for him. He just needs anoth­er 20 of those dona­tions and he’s done for the year. That’s actu­al­ly not that hard to get, because there are a lot of peo­ple out there who are will­ing to keep that chunk rolling in for him every year.”

    Rotel­la was one of those peo­ple. His foun­da­tion gave $2,500 to NPI in 2014, then dou­bled the sum in 2015. It hand­ed off anoth­er $5,000 chunk to the group in 2016. Dona­tions to oth­er white nation­al­ist groups fol­low a sim­i­lar pat­tern. Between 2013 and 2017, his foun­da­tion donat­ed $10,000 every year, or $40,000 total, to the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety, a white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion that pub­lish­es The Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly, a pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nal that focus­es on “race sci­ence.” Mem­bers of the journal’s advi­so­ry board include Vir­ginia Aber­nethy, a Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor emeri­ta who describes her­self as an “eth­nic sep­a­ratist,” and Tom Sunic, a writer whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter calls “an intel­lec­tu­al voice for white nation­al­ists” and who once com­plained that the media “pathol­o­gized White West­ern peo­ples into end­less atone­ment.” Until 2018, the RPRF’s dona­tions com­posed rough­ly 13 to 18 per­cent of the Charles Mar­tel Society’s dona­tion income, depend­ing on the year.

    Rotella’s foun­da­tion also fund­ed the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, or FAIR. That group, found­ed by the late anti-immi­gra­tion eugeni­cist John Tan­ton, has received $17,500 from Rotel­la since 2015. FAIR calls for sweep­ing restric­tions on legal immi­gra­tion based on stereo­types about the crim­i­nal ten­den­cies of non­whites; the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter has des­ig­nat­ed it a hate group. Dur­ing the same peri­od, Rotel­la gave anoth­er $35,000 to the New Cen­tu­ry Foun­da­tion, pub­lish­er of the dig­i­tal out­let Amer­i­can Renais­sance. The web­site advo­cates for white sep­a­ratism, eugen­ics, and strict immi­gra­tion restric­tions.

    Rick McNeely, a spokesper­son for the Rotel­la fam­i­ly, told New York in Decem­ber that the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute had mis­rep­re­sent­ed their work to the foun­da­tion. “In ret­ro­spect, the orig­i­nal goals of why some­one would give a dona­tion, in the spir­it of diver­si­ty and giv­ing oth­er peo­ple voic­es, that cer­tain­ly wouldn’t have been some­thing [the Rotel­las] would do if there had been bet­ter dis­clo­sure. Or if they had a crys­tal ball,” McNeely said.

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, none of us can tell the future or hid­den agen­das or what might hap­pen,” he added. How­ev­er, the goals and char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety are not hid­den knowl­edge. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter helped pub­li­cize the society’s role as a lead­ing pur­vey­or of “aca­d­e­m­ic” racism in 2010, years before the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion start­ed fund­ing the group. The soci­ety has been around since 2001, mean­ing it had 13 years to estab­lish its white nation­al­ist rai­son d’être before it received any Rotel­la mon­ey. FAIR has exist­ed since 1979; NPI, since 2005. Richard Spencer, no stranger to the lime­light, had already begun lead­ing NPI by the time it start­ed receiv­ing Rotel­la mon­ey. The inten­tions of these orga­ni­za­tions were clear enough to many.

    McNeely said he was unaware that the RPRF had also fund­ed Amer­i­can Renais­sance, nor could he explain how the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and NPI became famil­iar with a rel­a­tive­ly minor foun­da­tion in the first place. Pub­lic infor­ma­tion offers scant addi­tion­al insight into Rotel­la or the sub­stance of his views. He has no social-media pres­ence. His offi­cial biog­ra­phy on the Rotel­la Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment web­site says he earned degrees from Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute and Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty before found­ing his com­pa­ny in 1995. He even­tu­al­ly relo­cat­ed from Chica­go to Belle­vue, where the com­pa­ny is now based. An ama­teur pho­tog­ra­ph­er, he opened the Rotel­la Gallery in Belle­vue, and his biog­ra­phy on its web­site says he is orig­i­nal­ly from Nia­gara Falls, New York.

    Despite Rotella’s rel­a­tive­ly low pro­file, his dona­tion his­to­ry offers a rare glimpse into the way the alt-right is fund­ed. Infor­ma­tion about its major donors tends to be scarce. The RPRF is only the sec­ond fun­der of Spencer’s orga­ni­za­tion whose iden­ti­ty has become known; the oth­er is mul­ti­mil­lion­aire William Reg­n­ery II, who found­ed the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and also helped found NPI.

    Rotella’s oth­er char­i­ta­ble caus­es are not so obvi­ous­ly linked to par­ti­san issues. In addi­tion to fund­ing envi­ron­men­tal groups like Con­ser­va­tion Inter­na­tion­al and the Pol­li­na­tor Part­ner­ship, the RPRF donat­ed thou­sands to obscure groups that tout research efforts into UFOs, anti-vac­ci­na­tion, and the appar­ent­ly fic­ti­tious Morgel­lons dis­ease. The foun­da­tion has donat­ed $5,000 to the Exopol­i­tics Insti­tute, which offers a “cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram” in “extrater­res­tri­al affairs,” and $25,000 to the Far­sight Insti­tute, which claims its team of psy­chic “remote view­ers” has con­firmed that aliens built the Pyra­mids. But Nei­w­ert says this group­ing of inter­ests, while strange, isn’t com­plete­ly unusu­al. “White nation­al­ism runs on con­spir­a­cies,” he explained.

    The psy­chics of the Far­sight Insti­tute prob­a­bly have lit­tle impact on dai­ly affairs, but oth­er Rotel­la ben­e­fi­cia­ries achieve more tan­gi­ble results. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter report­ed in Novem­ber that before Stephen Miller joined Pres­i­dent Trump’s speech­writ­ing team, he reg­u­lar­ly shared links to Amer­i­can Renais­sance sto­ries with Bre­it­bart staffers to influ­ence their cov­er­age. Julie Kirch­n­er, who resigned as the U.S. Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices ombuds­man in Octo­ber, had pre­vi­ous­ly led FAIR for near­ly a decade. She wasn’t the only FAIR employ­ee in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion, either. John Zadrozny and Ian Smith both worked for FAIR in dif­fer­ent capac­i­ties before join­ing the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty under Trump; both have since left the admin­is­tra­tion.

    The Rotel­la Foundation’s giv­ing will soon cease: McNeely said it will dis­solve this year. The fam­i­ly lacked “the man­pow­er to do it cor­rect­ly,” he explained. But the foun­da­tion has already accom­plished a great deal dur­ing its 18 years in exis­tence — includ­ing fund­ing a legal case that could lead to a rad­i­cal rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the First Amend­ment. The Supreme Court will rule on Espinoza lat­er this year, and, giv­en the con­ser­v­a­tive make­up of the court, the Rotel­la-fund­ed Insti­tute for Jus­tice is like­ly to win. That wor­ries unions like the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, which oppos­es the use of pub­lic funds for reli­gious schools. “Robert Rotel­la and his sup­port for far-right caus­es is exhib­it A in the dis­turb­ing sto­ry of how mon­ey has infil­trat­ed and cor­rupt­ed our polit­i­cal sys­tem,” Ran­di Wein­garten, the pres­i­dent of AFT, told New York.

    ...

    ———–

    “This Obscure Foun­da­tion Helped Fund The Alt-Right” by Sarah Jones; New York Mag­a­zine; 02/18/2020

    “Of the $5.8 mil­lion the foun­da­tion has donat­ed to var­i­ous caus­es since 2002, rough­ly $105,000 has gone to orga­ni­za­tions like the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, or NPI, which is led by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer. A com­pre­hen­sive review of the foundation’s avail­able 990 reports indi­cates that its finan­cial sup­port for white nation­al­ism began in 2014 and con­tin­ued through 2018. Though $105,000 is not an excep­tion­al­ly large sum of mon­ey, white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tions are small, and it doesn’t take much mon­ey to keep them afloat. “Annu­al recur­ring dona­tions are kind of where it’s at for these guys because they all have finan­cial lim­its, imposed by fed­er­al law, on how large the dona­tions can be,” explained David Nei­w­ert, the author of Alt-Amer­i­ca: The Rise of the Rad­i­cal Right in the Age of Trump.”

    $105,000 for the far right from 2014–2018. That breaks down to $12,500 for the overt neo-Nazi Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute. $40,000 for the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety. $17,5000 for John Tan­ton’s the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform. And $35,000 for the New Cen­tu­ry Foun­da­tion. And while that may not seem like a mas­sive amount of mon­ey, it’s sig­nif­i­cant for the world of white nation­al­ist pro­pa­gan­da out­fits where the oper­at­ing costs are large­ly just salaries for fig­ures like Richard Spencer:

    ...
    “A guy like Spencer, for instance, doesn’t need a sin­gle sug­ar dad­dy to give him mon­ey,” Nei­w­ert added. “Basi­cal­ly, the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute is Spencer, and he just needs an annu­al salary. Five thou­sand dol­lars is basi­cal­ly 5 per­cent of that annu­al income for him. He just needs anoth­er 20 of those dona­tions and he’s done for the year. That’s actu­al­ly not that hard to get, because there are a lot of peo­ple out there who are will­ing to keep that chunk rolling in for him every year.”

    Rotel­la was one of those peo­ple. His foun­da­tion gave $2,500 to NPI in 2014, then dou­bled the sum in 2015. It hand­ed off anoth­er $5,000 chunk to the group in 2016. Dona­tions to oth­er white nation­al­ist groups fol­low a sim­i­lar pat­tern. Between 2013 and 2017, his foun­da­tion donat­ed $10,000 every year, or $40,000 total, to the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety, a white nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion that pub­lish­es The Occi­den­tal Quar­ter­ly, a pseu­do-aca­d­e­m­ic jour­nal that focus­es on “race sci­ence.” Mem­bers of the journal’s advi­so­ry board include Vir­ginia Aber­nethy, a Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor emeri­ta who describes her­self as an “eth­nic sep­a­ratist,” and Tom Sunic, a writer whom the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter calls “an intel­lec­tu­al voice for white nation­al­ists” and who once com­plained that the media “pathol­o­gized White West­ern peo­ples into end­less atone­ment.” Until 2018, the RPRF’s dona­tions com­posed rough­ly 13 to 18 per­cent of the Charles Mar­tel Society’s dona­tion income, depend­ing on the year.

    Rotella’s foun­da­tion also fund­ed the Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform, or FAIR. That group, found­ed by the late anti-immi­gra­tion eugeni­cist John Tan­ton, has received $17,500 from Rotel­la since 2015. FAIR calls for sweep­ing restric­tions on legal immi­gra­tion based on stereo­types about the crim­i­nal ten­den­cies of non­whites; the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter has des­ig­nat­ed it a hate group. Dur­ing the same peri­od, Rotel­la gave anoth­er $35,000 to the New Cen­tu­ry Foun­da­tion, pub­lish­er of the dig­i­tal out­let Amer­i­can Renais­sance. The web­site advo­cates for white sep­a­ratism, eugen­ics, and strict immi­gra­tion restric­tions.

    ...

    Despite Rotella’s rel­a­tive­ly low pro­file, his dona­tion his­to­ry offers a rare glimpse into the way the alt-right is fund­ed. Infor­ma­tion about its major donors tends to be scarce. The RPRF is only the sec­ond fun­der of Spencer’s orga­ni­za­tion whose iden­ti­ty has become known; the oth­er is mul­ti­mil­lion­aire William Reg­n­ery II, who found­ed the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and also helped found NPI.
    ...

    So what does the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion say when asked about these dona­tions that have sud­den­ly come to light? Well, they claim they did­n’t know about the nature of these groups. Some­thing that would require hav­ing done vir­tu­al­ly no due dili­gence about the groups in the first place since they don’t hide at all their nature. But that’s what they claim, along with the claim that the foun­da­tion is going to be shut­ting down soon:

    ...
    Rick McNeely, a spokesper­son for the Rotel­la fam­i­ly, told New York in Decem­ber that the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute had mis­rep­re­sent­ed their work to the foun­da­tion. “In ret­ro­spect, the orig­i­nal goals of why some­one would give a dona­tion, in the spir­it of diver­si­ty and giv­ing oth­er peo­ple voic­es, that cer­tain­ly wouldn’t have been some­thing [the Rotel­las] would do if there had been bet­ter dis­clo­sure. Or if they had a crys­tal ball,” McNeely said.

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, none of us can tell the future or hid­den agen­das or what might hap­pen,” he added. How­ev­er, the goals and char­ac­ter­is­tics of the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety are not hid­den knowl­edge. The South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter helped pub­li­cize the society’s role as a lead­ing pur­vey­or of “aca­d­e­m­ic” racism in 2010, years before the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion start­ed fund­ing the group. The soci­ety has been around since 2001, mean­ing it had 13 years to estab­lish its white nation­al­ist rai­son d’être before it received any Rotel­la mon­ey. FAIR has exist­ed since 1979; NPI, since 2005. Richard Spencer, no stranger to the lime­light, had already begun lead­ing NPI by the time it start­ed receiv­ing Rotel­la mon­ey. The inten­tions of these orga­ni­za­tions were clear enough to many.

    McNeely said he was unaware that the RPRF had also fund­ed Amer­i­can Renais­sance, nor could he explain how the Charles Mar­tel Soci­ety and NPI became famil­iar with a rel­a­tive­ly minor foun­da­tion in the first place. Pub­lic infor­ma­tion offers scant addi­tion­al insight into Rotel­la or the sub­stance of his views. He has no social-media pres­ence. His offi­cial biog­ra­phy on the Rotel­la Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment web­site says he earned degrees from Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute and Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty before found­ing his com­pa­ny in 1995. He even­tu­al­ly relo­cat­ed from Chica­go to Belle­vue, where the com­pa­ny is now based. An ama­teur pho­tog­ra­ph­er, he opened the Rotel­la Gallery in Belle­vue, and his biog­ra­phy on its web­site says he is orig­i­nal­ly from Nia­gara Falls, New York.

    ...

    The Rotel­la Foundation’s giv­ing will soon cease: McNeely said it will dis­solve this year. The fam­i­ly lacked “the man­pow­er to do it cor­rect­ly,” he explained. But the foun­da­tion has already accom­plished a great deal dur­ing its 18 years in exis­tence — includ­ing fund­ing a legal case that could lead to a rad­i­cal rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of the First Amend­ment. The Supreme Court will rule on Espinoza lat­er this year, and, giv­en the con­ser­v­a­tive make­up of the court, the Rotel­la-fund­ed Insti­tute for Jus­tice is like­ly to win. That wor­ries unions like the Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, which oppos­es the use of pub­lic funds for reli­gious schools. “Robert Rotel­la and his sup­port for far-right caus­es is exhib­it A in the dis­turb­ing sto­ry of how mon­ey has infil­trat­ed and cor­rupt­ed our polit­i­cal sys­tem,” Ran­di Wein­garten, the pres­i­dent of AFT, told New York.
    ...

    So it’ll be inter­est­ing to see if the foun­da­tion actu­al­ly shuts down. And if it does shut down, it will be inter­est­ing to see if a new one qui­et­ly pops up to replace it. Or per­haps Rotel­la will find an entire­ly new way of laun­der­ing mon­ey to these groups that’s hard­er to track. We’ll see, but if the foun­da­tion is shut down and his fund­ing of these groups real­ly does end, that could be a sig­nif­i­cant loss for the var­i­ous UFO/remote view­ing foun­da­tions like the Far­sight insti­tute which received $25,000 from the foun­da­tion:

    ...
    Rotella’s oth­er char­i­ta­ble caus­es are not so obvi­ous­ly linked to par­ti­san issues. In addi­tion to fund­ing envi­ron­men­tal groups like Con­ser­va­tion Inter­na­tion­al and the Pol­li­na­tor Part­ner­ship, the RPRF donat­ed thou­sands to obscure groups that tout research efforts into UFOs, anti-vac­ci­na­tion, and the appar­ent­ly fic­ti­tious Morgel­lons dis­ease. The foun­da­tion has donat­ed $5,000 to the Exopol­i­tics Insti­tute, which offers a “cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram” in “extrater­res­tri­al affairs,” and $25,000 to the Far­sight Insti­tute, which claims its team of psy­chic “remote view­ers” has con­firmed that aliens built the Pyra­mids. But Nei­w­ert says this group­ing of inter­ests, while strange, isn’t com­plete­ly unusu­al. “White nation­al­ism runs on con­spir­a­cies,” he explained.
    ...

    Ok, now to giv­en an idea of how well hid­den the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion’s white nation­al­ist dona­tions were, here’s a pro­file on the foun­da­tion from Inside Phil­an­thropy. It’s an undat­ed pro­file but had to at least be from after 2017 since it notes that the foun­da­tion award­ed around $585,000 in grants in 2017. And while the pro­file men­tions that the foun­da­tion has giv­en to main­stream con­ser­v­a­tive groups like the Cato Insti­tute and Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute and also men­tions groups with a more para­nor­mal inter­est like the Asso­ci­a­tion for Research and Enlight­en­ment (based on Edgard Cayce’s teach­ings), there’s not men­tion at all of the overt­ly white nation­al­ist groups like the NPI. So until that New York Mag­a­zine arti­cle from a few weeks ago, some­how the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion was keep­ing its far right dona­tions off the radar:

    Inside Phil­an­thropy
    Wall Street Donors Guide

    Robert and Rose­marie Rotel­la

    NET WORTH: Unknown

    SOURCE OF WEALTH: Rotel­la Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment

    FUNDING AREAS: Pol­i­cy, Envi­ron­ment

    OVERVIEW: Robert and Rose­marie Rotel­la move their phil­an­thropy through the Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion, which accord­ing to avail­able tax fil­ings, award­ed around $585,000 in grants in 2017. The foundation’s grant­mak­ing focus­es on pol­i­cy and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions.

    BACKGROUND: Robert P. Rotel­la grad­u­at­ed with a B.S. in chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing from Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute in 1978 and an MBA from Tem­ple Uni­ver­si­ty in 1980. He began his trad­ing career in 1982 and start­ed writ­ing com­put­er pro­grams and trad­ing inde­pen­dent­ly in 1985. He began trad­ing the Polaris pro­gram in 1990 with Com­modi­ties Cor­po­ra­tion, arguably one of the most suc­cess­ful incu­ba­tors of traders. In 1994 he moved to Sin­ga­pore and worked as a senior trad­er for Com­modi­ties Corp. and Orix Corp. He launched Rotel­la Cap­i­tal in 1995. His 1992 book, The Ele­ments of Suc­cess­ful Trad­ing, iden­ti­fied three crit­i­cal ele­ments to trading—Method, Mon­ey Man­age­ment, and Psy­chol­o­gy.

    ISSUES:

    POLICY: The Rotel­la Foun­da­tion gives to a long list of pol­i­cy orga­ni­za­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly those of the right-of-cen­ter vari­ety. Grantees have includ­ed Atlas Eco­nom­ic Research Foun­da­tion, whose goal is to pro­mote free-mar­ket eco­nom­ic poli­cies across the world; Acton Insti­tute for the Study of Reli­gion and Lib­er­ty; Cato Insti­tute; Com­pet­i­tive Enter­prise Insti­tute; Cen­ter for Indi­vid­ual Rights; FIRE; Nation­al Health Free­dom Coali­tion; and Just Facts, “a non-prof­it research and edu­ca­tion­al insti­tute ded­i­cat­ed to pub­lish­ing com­pre­hen­sive, straight­for­ward, and rig­or­ous­ly doc­u­ment­ed facts about pub­lic pol­i­cy issues.”

    The Rotel­las have sup­port­ed uncon­ven­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions such as the Asso­ci­a­tion for Research and Enlight­en­ment, which aims to “cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­found per­son­al change in body, mind, and spir­it through the wis­dom found in the Edgar Cayce mate­r­i­al;” and The Exopol­i­tics Insti­tute, which offers a num­ber of edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams evi­dence con­cern­ing the extrater­res­tri­al hypoth­e­sis.

    ENVIRONMENT: The Rotel­las sup­port a siz­able list of envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions through their foun­da­tion. Grantees have includ­ed Bat Con­ser­va­tion Inter­na­tion­al, Con­ser­va­tion Inter­na­tion­al, Food Democ­ra­cy Now, Earth­works, Rain­for­est Alliance, Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Net­work, Nature Con­ser­van­cy, and Wash­ing­ton Trails Asso­ci­a­tion

    LOOKING FORWARD: Expect the couple’s sup­port of pol­i­cy and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions to con­tin­ue.

    CONTACT:

    The Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion does not pro­vide a clear avenue of con­tact but below is an address:

    The Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion
    800 Belle­vue Way NE, Suite 200
    Belle­vue, WA 98004
    (425) 213‑5700

    ———-

    “Wall Street Donors Guide: Robert and Rose­marie Rotel­la”; Inside Phil­an­thropy

    “OVERVIEW: Robert and Rose­marie Rotel­la move their phil­an­thropy through the Robert P. Rotel­la Foun­da­tion, which accord­ing to avail­able tax fil­ings, award­ed around $585,000 in grants in 2017. The foundation’s grant­mak­ing focus­es on pol­i­cy and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions.”

    $585,000 in grants in 2017 alone. That may not be at the Koch Broth­ers lev­el of dona­tions but it’s not triv­ial. A half a mil­lion dol­lars a year adds up fast. Espe­cial­ly for all of the small­er “uncon­ven­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions” like the Asso­ci­a­tion for Research and Enlight­en­ment:

    ...
    The Rotel­las have sup­port­ed uncon­ven­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions such as the Asso­ci­a­tion for Research and Enlight­en­ment, which aims to “cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for pro­found per­son­al change in body, mind, and spir­it through the wis­dom found in the Edgar Cayce mate­r­i­al;” and The Exopol­i­tics Insti­tute, which offers a num­ber of edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams evi­dence con­cern­ing the extrater­res­tri­al hypoth­e­sis.
    ...

    But there’s no men­tion in the pro­file of any “uncon­ven­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions” of a Nazi-nature. You have to won­der if the per­son cre­at­ing the pro­file sim­ply did­n’t rec­og­nize the nature of groups with innocu­ous sound­ing names like the “Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute”.

    So as the sto­ry of the Rotel­la Foun­da­tion reminds us, we have a lot to learn when it comes to financ­ing of the far right. As the first arti­cle men­tioned, Rotel­la is only the sec­ond pub­licly known financier of the Nation­al Pol­i­cy Insti­tute. And based on the amounts he donat­ed there are clear­ly oth­er donors. Who are these peo­ple and what oth­er caus­es are they donat­ing to?

    It’s also worth keep­ing in mind that one of the grand long-term goals of the far right is some sort of mas­sive soci­ety-wide event (like­ly a hoax) that fun­da­men­tal­ly shift’s the pub­lic’s sense of what is real and who to trust. It’s reflect­ed in how much far right pro­pa­gan­da frames its cause in ‘End Times’-style con­flicts and part of the util­i­ty of “Illumaniti”-centric nar­ra­tives that have at their core the mes­sage that vir­tu­al­ly every­thing you know is wrong and the only groups you can trust are these ‘alter­na­tive’ sources. So in that sense we prob­a­bly should expect that the financiers of Nazis are mak­ing invest­ments in the kind of para­nor­mal foun­da­tions that could be use­ful in gen­er­at­ing mas­sive soci­ety-shak­ing events involv­ing things like UFOs or ‘End Times’-style events. There’s an unfor­tu­nate poten­tial syn­er­gy there.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 7, 2020, 5:04 pm
  4. Here’s an update on Steve Ban­non’s schem­ing. He’s got a new scheme. An extra stu­pid scheme even by the stan­dards of Steve Ban­non’s his­to­ry of scheme. But extra stu­pid in a man­ner that will prob­a­bly res­onate with his tar­get audi­ence of marks:

    First, recall how Ban­non has already been charged with fraud over the “We Build the Wall” char­i­ty scam that raised $25 mil­lions to build parts of a wall between the US and Mex­i­co mil­lions. But then Ban­non was par­doned by then-Pres­i­dent Trump and the charges were dropped.

    Then there’s Ban­non’s role in the crim­i­nal­ly charged scam­ming of investors in Guo Wen­gui’s media empire. A scam that involved rais­ing investor mon­ey for a new media enter­prise and bet­ting large sums of the funds on the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Hong Kong Dol­lar. A scam that also hap­pened to include a sig­nif­i­cant cryp­tocur­ren­cy com­po­nent. First it was the G‑Coins/G‑Dollars, which Guo’s fol­low­ers could pur­chase with promis­es of high returns and/or the abil­i­ty to pur­chase goods and ser­vices of Guo-affil­i­at­ed com­pa­nies on the G‑Media plat­form. But then the SEC fined Guo $539 mil­lion over these invest­ment scams, so they switched over to a new “Himalaya Coin” scheme that sounds like basi­cal­ly the same idea but under a new name.

    So here’s the new Steve Ban­non scheme. It should sound famil­iar by now: Ban­non had teamed up with ex-Trump advi­sor Boris Epshteyn to pro­mote a new obscure joke cryp­tocur­ren­cy as the MAGA cryp­to of choice. The $FJB Coin — stands for “F#ck Joe Biden” — is the cre­ation of a recent col­lege grad­u­ate. Ban­non called the coin a way for pur­chasers of the cur­ren­cy to show “your total and com­plete inde­pen­dence” from the gov­ern­ment and “non-reliance on their finan­cial sys­tem.” It’s not just a scam. It’s a rev­o­lu­tion­ary scam that will free you from the finan­cial matrix. You’re free now!

    But there’s a catch. It turns out users have to pay an 8 per­cent fee each time they buy or sell any coins. We’re told the fee cov­ers “our mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives” and vet­er­an and first respon­der char­i­ties. Yes, they fee is going to char­i­ty. *wink* How much of this fee is going to char­i­ty and which char­i­ties? They aren’t say­ing. *wink* *wink*

    Oh, and there’s anoth­er catch. This is where this scam is tak­en to a new stu­pid lev­el: the code run­ning the cryp­to cur­ren­cy is all pub­licly avail­able and peo­ple have observed some­thing rather anom­alous about how this cryp­tocur­ren­cy oper­ates. It gives the oper­a­tors of the cur­ren­cy the pow­er to con­trol when or if some­one can sell their coins. Yep.

    How about the oper­a­tors of $FJB? Can they buy and sell coins at will? Yep. The con­trol over who can sell is com­plete­ly man­u­al and there’s noth­ing man­dat­ing that the own­ers face the same restric­tions. It’s like the Roach Motel of cryp­tocur­ren­cies. You can enter. You may not be allowed to leave. But Ban­non and Epshteyn will be allowed to leave when­ev­er they want.

    Keep in mind that Steve Ban­non is arguably the beat­ing heart of the MAGA move­ment at this point, even more so than Don­ald Trump. That’s why this isn’t just anoth­er ran­dom cryp­to-scam. This is a Ban­non scam. Those things make seri­ous mon­ey because Ban­non knows how to scam at scale. And get away with it:

    Moth­er Jones

    Experts Raise Warn­ings About Steve Bannon’s New Cryp­tocur­ren­cy
    For­mer Trump aides are pitch­ing a dig­i­tal coin to Biden haters.

    by Ali Bre­land and David Corn
    Jan­u­ary 19, 2022

    Last month, Steve Ban­non, the for­mer Trump cam­paign man­ag­er and White House strate­gist, announced his par­tic­i­pa­tion in a new ven­ture: a cryp­tocur­ren­cy mar­ket­ed to Joe Biden haters and Don­ald Trump devo­tees. He and Boris Epshteyn, anoth­er ex-Trump advis­er, boast­ed that they had tak­en a “strate­gic own­er­ship posi­tion” in a cryp­to coin called $FJB. That stands for Fu ck Joe Biden.

    On his pod­cast, Ban­non began talk­ing up the coin, of which they both had acquired sig­nif­i­cant amounts, as a “cur­ren­cy for the MAGA move­ment.” Dur­ing one episode, Epshteyn hailed the $FJB coin as a tool to help Trump fanat­ics “let your feel­ings, your pri­mal dis­ap­proval, your pri­mal dis­gust with Biden be heard.” But $FJB buy­ers might want to beware. Not only does every pur­chase bol­ster the val­ue of Bannon’s and Epshteyn’s hold­ings, cryp­to experts say the cur­ren­cy is designed in a way that affords its oper­a­tors an unusu­al amount of dis­cre­tion in block­ing own­ers of coins from sell­ing their tokens—a pow­er that could cause prob­lems for investors.

    Start­ing a cryp­tocur­ren­cy is sur­pris­ing­ly easy. Write up a bit of a code, have a pro­gram­mer do it for you, or copy and maybe tweak some used else­where, and you’ve got a new cur­ren­cy. $FJB was orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed in Octo­ber by Grant Trag­ni, a recent grad­u­ate of Rens­se­laer Poly­tech­nic Insti­tute. It was ini­tial­ly called the Let’s Go Bran­don coin, named after the phrase con­ser­v­a­tives have embraced as code for FJB. Its web­site claims that over 8,000 peo­ple own the coin.

    The code for $FJB allows the currency’s oper­a­tors to man­u­al­ly lock an owner’s token bal­ance, an unusu­al prac­tice in a space that aims to avoid cen­tral­ized author­i­ty. This would pre­vent an own­er from sell­ing coins, accord­ing to Simon de la Rou­viere, who reviewed the code for Moth­er Jones. De la Rou­viere is a dig­i­tal artist and co-author of ERC-20, a cod­ing stan­dard used to pro­gram con­tracts on the Ethereum blockchain, which sup­ports Ether, a cryp­tocur­ren­cy sec­ond only to Bit­coin in mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion.

    De la Rou­viere points out that this restric­tion doesn’t apply to the oper­a­tors of $FJB. “They can trans­fer as much as they want, when­ev­er,” he says. De la Rou­viere out­lines a pos­si­ble sce­nario: If $FJB’s price start­ed to drop, the coin’s oper­a­tors could freeze some token hold­ers from sell­ing to pre­vent a fur­ther spi­ral, while the oper­a­tors remain free to sell off their own coins. By the time locked investors regained access, their tokens could be worth much less.

    An engi­neer with expe­ri­ence at major cryp­to companies—who asked not to be iden­ti­fied cit­ing pro­fes­sion­al concerns—reviewed the currency’s code and agreed with de la Rou­viere, con­firm­ing that “there is a lock that can arbi­trar­i­ly be placed on almost any address,” with the only excep­tion being the $FJB oper­a­tors’ address.

    Locks are some­times writ­ten into cryp­tocur­ren­cy codes as an “anti-whale” feature—a sup­posed safe­guard tem­per­ing the influ­ence of big investors. But unlike oth­er cryp­tocur­ren­cies with trig­gers that auto­mat­i­cal­ly apply locks to hold­ers try­ing to car­ry out large trans­ac­tions, $FJB’s oper­a­tors can man­u­al­ly pick and choose whose wal­lets to lock. “It would’ve been bet­ter if it was an auto­mat­ed process,” de la Rou­viere says. “It’s just bad code.”

    Giv­en the coin’s lock­up mech­a­nism, cryp­to experts warn that own­ers of $FJB tokens lack full con­trol over their invest­ment. Indeed, some $FJB hold­ers com­plain they have already been affect­ed by arbi­trary locks and unlocks. “My wal­let has been locked now for the 4th time,” one user said in the $FJB chat on the Dis­cord mes­sag­ing app. “This time it’s locked by the new own­ers of $FJB. It’s an anx­ious time[. I’m] wait­ing for answers.”

    “My wal­let has been locked three times, always after I sell,” anoth­er wrote. “The [devel­op­ers] have unlocked it man­u­al­ly twice but this third time I’m get­ting the runaround. I do trust the devs and know they are super busy but it’s still got me on the edge of my seat.”

    Moth­er Jones sent a list of ques­tions to Ban­non and Epshteyn about the $FJB code and its lock­ing mech­a­nism. The two per­son­al­ly declined to com­ment. A state­ment pro­vid­ed by $FJB notes that the code is not secret but offered no fur­ther infor­ma­tion about its use of locks:

    For trans­paren­cy and open­ness, the code is pub­licly avail­able to every­body. Indi­vid­u­als inter­est­ed in join­ing the com­mu­ni­ty have com­plete access to the code and those who choose to pur­chase tokens accepts the terms of ser­vice laid out by FJB Coin. The con­tract code has been audit­ed mul­ti­ple times by var­i­ous third-par­ty orga­ni­za­tions. The code was pub­licly edit­ed (forked) twice to improve the code and ensure the coin is built for longevi­ty. We are hon­ored by the tremen­dous response to the FJB Coin the vibrant com­mu­ni­ty being built.

    Ban­non has tout­ed the $FJB coin as a way for pur­chasers of the cur­ren­cy to show “your total and com­plete inde­pen­dence” from the gov­ern­ment and “non-reliance on their finan­cial sys­tem.” On one pod­cast, he sold the coin with a para­noid pitch, promis­ing buy­ers that once they held the coin “they’re not going to be able to dis­ap­pear you like the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty, like the Bol­she­viks, like the Nazis, like anybody—like any of these rad­i­cals that have ever tak­en con­trol of these appa­ra­tus­es.” It wasn’t clear how pur­chas­ing $FJB could save an own­er from being dis­ap­peared by a repres­sive regime.

    Users must pay an 8 per­cent fee to $FJB oper­a­tors when buy­ing or sell­ing tokens. The currency’s web­site claims these pay­ments are used both to sup­port “our mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives” and vet­er­an and first respon­der char­i­ties. It doesn’t spec­i­fy what por­tion goes to such orga­ni­za­tions or name the recip­i­ents.

    Ban­non and Epshteyn declined to spec­i­fy their pre­cise rela­tion­ship to $FJB. The state­ment from $FJB only says the two had “formed a strate­gic part­ner­ship with FJB Coin.” In a Decem­ber LinkedIn post, Trag­ni report­ed that he had sold “own­er­ship of the coin.” Accord­ing to the $FJB state­ment, Trag­ni is “still involved with its man­age­ment and oper­a­tion.” Trag­ni did not respond to a request for com­ment.

    ...

    When $FJB debuted in Octo­ber, each coin was worth $.0019, accord­ing to Coin­base. The price col­lapsed to $.000997 by Decem­ber 22. After Ban­non and Epshteyn announced their involve­ment and began hawk­ing it to their MAGA audi­ence, its price shot up to $.0046. Fol­low­ing that peak, it fell steadi­ly and was at $.0016 on Jan­u­ary 17.

    Ban­non and Epshteyn declined to com­ment on whether they have sold any of their tokens. A sec­ond state­ment from $FJB said the two were “deeply com­mit­ted to the $FJB com­mu­ni­ty and are absolute­ly con­fi­dent that this move­ment will con­tin­ue to grow. Their hold­ings are ful­ly trans­par­ent and have only grown.” The pair declined to pro­vide Moth­er Jones links to their pub­lic wal­lets or oth­er infor­ma­tion that would dis­close their $FJB hold­ings.

    ———

    “Experts Raise Warn­ings About Steve Bannon’s New Cryp­tocur­ren­cy” by Ali Bre­land and David Corn; Moth­er Jones; 01/19/2022

    “On his pod­cast, Ban­non began talk­ing up the coin, of which they both had acquired sig­nif­i­cant amounts, as a “cur­ren­cy for the MAGA move­ment.” Dur­ing one episode, Epshteyn hailed the $FJB coin as a tool to help Trump fanat­ics “let your feel­ings, your pri­mal dis­ap­proval, your pri­mal dis­gust with Biden be heard.” But $FJB buy­ers might want to beware. Not only does every pur­chase bol­ster the val­ue of Bannon’s and Epshteyn’s hold­ings, cryp­to experts say the cur­ren­cy is designed in a way that affords its oper­a­tors an unusu­al amount of dis­cre­tion in block­ing own­ers of coins from sell­ing their tokens—a pow­er that could cause prob­lems for investors.

    It’s as if gim­micky scam-coins are are Steve Ban­non’s new hob­by. First he gets involved with the G‑Coin/G‑Dollar cryp­to scheme with Guo Wen­gui that traps investors into buy prod­ucts with the coin from Guo’s affil­i­at­ed sell­ers. Then, fol­low­ing $539 mil­lion SEC fine deliv­ered to Guo over investor fraud in rela­tion to this scheme, they moved on to pro­mot­ing a cryp­tocur­ren­cy that sounds like a clone of the G‑Coin/G‑Dollar scheme: the Himalaya Coin. And we learn about a whole new cryp­to-scam with Boris Epshteyn. A scam coin that man­ages to look like an even more bla­tant scam that G‑Coin or Himalaya Coin: The $FJB coin. A coin that grants Ban­non and Epshteyn the pow­er to con­trol your abil­i­ty to cash out. Con­trol they’re already wield­ing accord­ing to reports:

    ...
    The code for $FJB allows the currency’s oper­a­tors to man­u­al­ly lock an owner’s token bal­ance, an unusu­al prac­tice in a space that aims to avoid cen­tral­ized author­i­ty. This would pre­vent an own­er from sell­ing coins, accord­ing to Simon de la Rou­viere, who reviewed the code for Moth­er Jones. De la Rou­viere is a dig­i­tal artist and co-author of ERC-20, a cod­ing stan­dard used to pro­gram con­tracts on the Ethereum blockchain, which sup­ports Ether, a cryp­tocur­ren­cy sec­ond only to Bit­coin in mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion.

    De la Rou­viere points out that this restric­tion doesn’t apply to the oper­a­tors of $FJB. “They can trans­fer as much as they want, when­ev­er,” he says. De la Rou­viere out­lines a pos­si­ble sce­nario: If $FJB’s price start­ed to drop, the coin’s oper­a­tors could freeze some token hold­ers from sell­ing to pre­vent a fur­ther spi­ral, while the oper­a­tors remain free to sell off their own coins. By the time locked investors regained access, their tokens could be worth much less.

    ...

    Giv­en the coin’s lock­up mech­a­nism, cryp­to experts warn that own­ers of $FJB tokens lack full con­trol over their invest­ment. Indeed, some $FJB hold­ers com­plain they have already been affect­ed by arbi­trary locks and unlocks. “My wal­let has been locked now for the 4th time,” one user said in the $FJB chat on the Dis­cord mes­sag­ing app. “This time it’s locked by the new own­ers of $FJB. It’s an anx­ious time[. I’m] wait­ing for answers.”

    “My wal­let has been locked three times, always after I sell,” anoth­er wrote. “The [devel­op­ers] have unlocked it man­u­al­ly twice but this third time I’m get­ting the runaround. I do trust the devs and know they are super busy but it’s still got me on the edge of my seat.”
    ...

    And the cher­ry on top of this scam is an 8 per­cent fee charged when­ev­er some­one buys or (good luck!) sells. The fees go, in part, to vet­er­an and first respon­der char­i­ties. They don’t say which char­i­ties or how much is going to them. But we are assured the mon­ey is going to char­i­ty. Assur­ances from a guy who was fac­ing fed­er­al charges or crim­i­nal embez­zle­ment of the $25 mil­lion he raised as part of the “We Build the Wall” crowd-rais­ing move­ment until Trump par­doned him of the charges. It’s like Ban­non psy­chi­cal­ly feeds off of char­i­ty fraud or some­thing. The guy can’t stop:

    ...
    Users must pay an 8 per­cent fee to $FJB oper­a­tors when buy­ing or sell­ing tokens. The currency’s web­site claims these pay­ments are used both to sup­port “our mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives” and vet­er­an and first respon­der char­i­ties. It doesn’t spec­i­fy what por­tion goes to such orga­ni­za­tions or name the recip­i­ents.
    ...

    As we can see, the scam-coin oper­at­ed on manip­u­lat­ed mar­ket­places is heat­ing up! The Himalaya Coins have com­pe­ti­tion. It rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not Ban­non end­ed up bring­ing over some of the scam lessons he learned from his expe­ri­ences on Guo’s coins over to this new $FSB project. So we’ll see in the end which scam coins come out on top, but odds are Ban­non is an investor. Scam-coins are clear­ly his thing now.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 24, 2022, 5:35 pm
  5. With the real­i­ty of a rogue Supreme Court sink­ing in for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans as the Court’s his­toric 2022 term winds down, here’s an arti­cle from last month that points towards anoth­er kind of judi­cial insur­rec­tion we should expect to hap­pen with increas­ing fre­quen­cy. A judi­cial insur­rec­tion at the bot­tom of the judi­cial hier­ar­chy in the form of Trump lov­ing jurors who refuse to con­vict con­ser­v­a­tive fig­ures over a sense of Big Lib­er­al Gov­ern­ment per­se­cu­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives.

    That’s what appeared to tran­spire in the pros­e­cu­tion of Tim Shea, one of the fig­ures involved with Steve Ban­non in the “We Build the Wall” fundrais­ing scam. Recall how Steve Ban­non was arrest­ed on August 20, 2020, by US offi­cials while he was being host­ed on Guo Wengui’s yacht for his involve­ment in the scam, only to be par­doned by Pres­i­dent Trump on his last day in office. But Trump did­n’t par­don all of the fig­ures involved wit the scheme, includ­ing Col­orado busi­ness­man Tim Shea. And as the fol­low­ing arti­cle describes, Shea’s tri­al end­ed in a mis­tri­al last month. A mis­tri­al that appears to have been dri­ven by the con­vic­tions of one of the twelve juror that the whole thing was part of a Big Gov­ern­ment per­se­cu­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives. At least that’s what we can infer from the expla­na­tions we were giv­en by this lone juror. Accord­ing to “Rober­to”, he made his deci­sion based on his sus­pi­cions that the gov­ern­ment inten­tion­al­ly brought Shea to tri­al in Man­hat­tan in order to get a lib­er­al-vot­ing jury. Oth­er jurors report that Rober­to was also sus­pi­cious that maybe Don­ald Trump donat­ed the mon­ey to the group, imply­ing that no mass fraud of small donors actu­al­ly took place. No evi­dence that Trump made such dona­tions has been report­ed, but this juror was pret­ty intent on find­ing a rea­son, any rea­son, to refuse to con­vict this Trump fig­ure.

    So as we’re enter­ing an era where a far right Supreme Court major­i­ty appears to be ready and will­ing to just make up legal doc­trines as need­ed to achieve their far right objec­tives, the sto­ry of the mis­tri­al of Tim Shea serves as reminder that the ‘ends jus­ti­fy the means’ sen­ti­ments that appear to be moti­vat­ing the Supreme Court’s far right major­i­ty are very wide­ly held sen­ti­ments these days across the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. A cul­ti­vat­ed sen­ti­ment. And it’s the kind of sen­ti­ment that is prob­a­bly going to end up infect­ing a lot more jury pools as the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s descent into open fas­cism, crim­i­nal­i­ty, and insur­rec­tion plays out and leads to more pros­e­cu­tions. It’s anoth­er aspect of the dark­ness in the US’s fore­see­able future and the nor­mal­iza­tion of far right crimes, whether polit­i­cal crimes or just tra­di­tion­al scams: the more the far right memes about mass gov­ern­ment pros­e­cu­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives take hole with­in the broad­er pop­u­lace, the hard­er it’s going to be to ever get a con­vic­tion for any these crimes:

    Cour­t­house News

    We Build the Wall fraud case ends in mis­tri­al; jurors ‘hope­less­ly dead­locked’

    Tim Shea was indict­ed along­side Trump ally Steve Ban­non and two oth­ers for loot­ing their pur­port­ed char­i­ty ven­ture. Shea alone went to tri­al, how­ev­er, after Ban­non got par­doned and the oth­ers plead­ed guilty.
    Josh Rus­sell / June 7, 2022

    MANHATTAN (CN) — A fed­er­al judge declared a mis­tri­al Tues­day in the crim­i­nal case against a Col­orado busi­ness­man accused of laun­der­ing mon­ey from a bogus char­i­ty that milked about $25 mil­lion from pri­vate donors who thought they were fund­ing the con­struc­tion of for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bor­der wall.

    The pan­el is “hope­less­ly dead­locked,” U.S. Dis­trict Judge Anal­isa Tor­res announced this after­noon of the jury that has been delib­er­at­ing since last Tues­day — more than twice as long as the three-day dura­tion of the tri­al for 51-year-old Tim­o­thy Shea that book­end­ed the Memo­r­i­al Day hol­i­day week­end.

    Shea, who owns a Trump-themed ener­gy drink com­pa­ny called Win­ning Ener­gy, stood tri­al alone, but he was charged in 2020 along­side three fel­low co-founders of the group We Build the Wall: Trump polit­i­cal strate­gist Steve Ban­non, Air Force vet­er­an Bri­an Kolfage and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Andrew Badola­to.

    From the begin­ning, We Build the Wall promised that 100% of funds raised would go toward con­struc­tion of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico bor­der. It quick­ly raised some $25 mil­lion in pri­vate dona­tions on GoFundMe but built a mere 3 miles of fenc­ing. The rest, accord­ing to charg­ing papers, lined its founder’s pock­ets. Pros­e­cu­tors said Ban­non and Kolfage alone used more than $1 mil­lion in We Build the Wall dona­tions to pay for a boat, a 2018 Land Rover Range Rover, a golf cart, jew­el­ry, cos­met­ic surgery and oth­er assets.

    Kolfage and Badola­to plead­ed guilty in April 2022. Ban­non, who was arrest­ed off the east­ern coast of Con­necti­cut on a 150-foot yacht owned by Chi­nese bil­lion­aire Guo Wen­gui, mean­while would cir­cum­vent lia­bil­i­ty in the case when Trump par­doned him on his last day in office in Jan­u­ary 2021.

    Shea faces three crim­i­nal counts — con­spir­a­cy to com­mit wire fraud, con­spir­a­cy to com­mit mon­ey laun­der­ing and fal­si­fi­ca­tion of records — each of which car­ries a max­i­mum penal­ty of 20 years in prison.

    U.S. Attor­ney Dami­an Williams said his office looks for­ward to retry­ing the case. “While the jury was unfor­tu­nate­ly unable to reach a unan­i­mous ver­dict in U.S. v. Tim­o­thy Shea, that in no way lessens our resolve or belief in the pow­er­ful and com­pelling evi­dence that we strong­ly believe proves his guilt,” Williams said in a state­ment on Tues­day after­noon.

    After the tri­al con­clud­ed Tues­day after­noon, a juror iden­ti­fied him­self to reporters as the only mem­ber of the pan­el who did not vote to con­vict Shea. Rober­to, no last name giv­en, spoke briefly and eva­sive­ly to reporters about his belief that there was rea­son­able doubt that the case should have been brought in the South­ern Dis­trict of New York at all. Rober­to said he was “very sur­prised” the case was brought in Man­hat­tan since “99 per­cent [the dona­tions to We Build the Wall] are from some­where else.”

    Oth­er mem­bers of the jury told reporters mean­while that Rober­to fell asleep at points of the tri­al, ignored evi­dence dur­ing delib­er­a­tions and was “hung up” on where We Build The Wall’s mon­ey was com­ing from, even sug­gest­ing “maybe Trump gave them the mon­ey.”

    Rober­to declined to com­ment out­side the cour­t­house Tues­day when asked if he is a sup­port­er of for­mer Pres­i­dent Trump.

    The jury’s foreper­son, Richard from Nanuet, New York, told reporters that the hold­out juror’s stub­born­ness dur­ing delib­er­a­tions was “like a fuc king ven­tril­o­quist show.”

    Anoth­er juror, Lau­ren from the Bronx, described the trial’s pro­longed delib­er­a­tions as “incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing” and said the rene­gade juror “wasn’t inter­pret­ing the law the way we were told to.”

    Signs of cracks in the tri­al first began to emerge Thurs­day, three days into delib­er­a­tions, when the jury sent a note to Judge Tor­res say­ing they were dead­locked 11–1. The pan­el request­ed that Tor­res call up alter­nate to replace a juror who they said had voiced anti-gov­ern­ment bias and accused them all of being lib­er­als.

    Using bul­let points to out­line the juror’s behav­ior, the pan­el quot­ed this juror as say­ing things such as “gov­ern­ment witch hunt” and accus­ing the gov­ern­ment of venue shop­ping. Say­ing Shea “should have been tried in a South­ern state,” the juror pur­port­ed­ly claimed that the gov­ern­ment instead brought the case in New York City because they “knew peo­ple here vote dif­fer­ent­ly.”

    Judge Tor­res allowed the juror to remain on the pan­el and con­tin­ue delib­er­at­ing after pri­vate­ly ques­tion­ing him in cham­bers.

    Shea’s lawyer John Meringo­lo told reporters out­side of the court­room on Tues­day after­noon: “We respect all jury ver­dicts, good, bad or hung.”

    Judge Tor­res announced the mis­tri­al Tues­day short­ly after jurors sent a note explain­ing that, despite going “to extreme depth and gran­u­lar detail” on points of con­tention over the last cou­ple days of delib­er­a­tion, “it is abun­dant­ly clear that we are even fur­ther entrenched in our oppos­ing views.”

    “We can­not a reach a ver­dict on any of the three counts,” the jury wrote in their sev­enth and final note, after more than 30 hours of delib­er­a­tion. Eight women and eight men made up the jury of New York­ers who heard the case, 12 of them on the pan­el, plus four alter­nates.

    The government’s case against Shea says he was the one who set up the shell cor­po­ra­tions that fun­neled We Build the Wall dona­tions to pay Kolfage a $20,000 month­ly salary despite repeat­ed assur­ances to donors that the triple amputee serv­ing as We Build The Wall’s pres­i­dent would “not take a pen­ny in salary or com­pen­sa­tion.”

    The mon­ey, accord­ing to the indict­ment, was fun­neled through Ranch Prop­er­ty Mar­ket­ing and Man­age­ment, a com­pa­ny that pros­e­cu­tors said was giv­en an inten­tion­al­ly “vague-sound­ing” name, to fab­ri­cat­ed fake invoic­es and back­dat­ed pay­ment requests.

    Pros­e­cu­tors showed evi­dence that Shea mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed $34,000 from We Build the Wall to buy 50,000 cans of his company’s Trump-themed bev­er­age (“12 oz of lib­er­al tears,” the pack­ag­ing sneers). Though he and Kolfage “papered it as a loan,” the gov­ern­ment ques­tioned what kind of loan doesn’t come with inter­est. “No repay­ment, no col­lec­tion, that’s how you know it wasn’t a real loan,” Assis­tant U.S. Attor­ney Nico­las Roos said dur­ing the government’s sum­ma­tion argu­ment Tues­day.

    The defen­dant ran Win­ning Ener­gy with his wife, Aman­da Shea, an ardent Trump con­ser­v­a­tive who was also list­ed as chief finan­cial offi­cer for We Build the Wall but not named in the indict­ment.

    Shea’s attor­ney John Meringo­lo did not call any wit­ness­es at tri­al, instead choos­ing to rest his brief defense on about a dozen exhibits entered into evi­dence, includ­ing a pix­e­lat­ed video of We Build The Wall board mem­ber Kris Kobach speak­ing at one of the bor­der wall con­struc­tion sites. Meringo­lo did not ini­tial­ly tell jurors that it was Kobach — not Shea — in the clip.

    Meringolo’s capri­cious and seem­ing­ly impro­vised defense case hinged on his insis­tence that pros­e­cu­tors had not proved the case beyond a rea­son­able doubt.

    Fol­low­ing Judge Tor­res’ read­ing of a so-called “Allen charge” instruct­ing the juror to con­tin­ue delib­er­at­ing toward a unan­i­mous ver­dict, the jurors asked to pore through copies in gov­ern­ment evi­dence of the trial’s volu­mi­nous bank records from 2018 through 2020.

    Anoth­er jury note last Fri­day sug­gest­ed an impasse on count three, fal­si­fi­ca­tion of records. This charge alleges that Shea and Kolfage back­dat­ed con­tracts in Octo­ber 2019 to reflect rea­sons for pay­ments from We Build the Wall to Shea and from Shea to Kolfage, “with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influ­ence” a fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion into the scheme.

    Sug­gest­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of addi­tion­al evi­dence “some­where,” includ­ing ear­li­er signed doc­u­ments that the “pros­e­cu­tion did not search and find,” the jury note asked for clar­i­ty on whether it was a crime to back­date a con­tract to memo­ri­al­ize an ear­li­er agree­ment.

    CNN report­ed last week that the Man­hat­tan dis­trict attorney’s office has issued sub­poe­nas as part of crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Bannon’s fundrais­ing efforts, which could poten­tial­ly lead to state charges against the one­time advis­er par­doned by for­mer Pres­i­dent Trump.

    ...

    Ban­non is also fac­ing a July fed­er­al tri­al in Wash­ing­ton on con­tempt charges after he refused to com­ply with a House com­mit­tee sub­poe­na con­nect­ed to the mob of Trump sup­port­ers who stormed the U.S. Capi­tol on Jan. 6.

    ———

    “We Build the Wall fraud case ends in mis­tri­al; jurors ‘hope­less­ly dead­locked’” by Josh Rus­sell; Cour­t­house News; 06/07/2022

    After the tri­al con­clud­ed Tues­day after­noon, a juror iden­ti­fied him­self to reporters as the only mem­ber of the pan­el who did not vote to con­vict Shea. Rober­to, no last name giv­en, spoke briefly and eva­sive­ly to reporters about his belief that there was rea­son­able doubt that the case should have been brought in the South­ern Dis­trict of New York at all. Rober­to said he was “very sur­prised” the case was brought in Man­hat­tan since “99 per­cent [the dona­tions to We Build the Wall] are from some­where else.””

    The lone hold out juror sce­nario. So what was the basis for this lone juror’s dis­pute? Well, it sounds like “Rober­to” felt like the case was part of some sort of left-wing legal plot against con­ser­v­a­tives. Accord­ing Rober­to, Shea should have been tried in a South­ern State and was only tried in New York City because they “knew peo­ple here vote dif­fer­ent­ly” and this was all part of a “gov­ern­ment witch-hunt” against Shea. It’s the kind of ‘legal argu­ment’ that could come in extreme­ly handy dur­ing vir­tu­al­ly any legal pro­ceed­ing involv­ing Repub­li­cans in a Blue-state. Like, for exam­ple, the poten­tial New York State charges against Steve Ban­non over his role in the “We Build the Wall” scam. Charges that were already par­doned by Pres­i­dent Trump at the fed­er­al lev­el on his last day in office:

    ...
    Oth­er mem­bers of the jury told reporters mean­while that Rober­to fell asleep at points of the tri­al, ignored evi­dence dur­ing delib­er­a­tions and was “hung up” on where We Build The Wall’s mon­ey was com­ing from, even sug­gest­ing “maybe Trump gave them the mon­ey.”

    Rober­to declined to com­ment out­side the cour­t­house Tues­day when asked if he is a sup­port­er of for­mer Pres­i­dent Trump.

    The jury’s foreper­son, Richard from Nanuet, New York, told reporters that the hold­out juror’s stub­born­ness dur­ing delib­er­a­tions was “like a fuc king ven­tril­o­quist show.”

    Anoth­er juror, Lau­ren from the Bronx, described the trial’s pro­longed delib­er­a­tions as “incred­i­bly frus­trat­ing” and said the rene­gade juror “wasn’t inter­pret­ing the law the way we were told to.”

    Signs of cracks in the tri­al first began to emerge Thurs­day, three days into delib­er­a­tions, when the jury sent a note to Judge Tor­res say­ing they were dead­locked 11–1. The pan­el request­ed that Tor­res call up alter­nate to replace a juror who they said had voiced anti-gov­ern­ment bias and accused them all of being lib­er­als.

    Using bul­let points to out­line the juror’s behav­ior, the pan­el quot­ed this juror as say­ing things such as “gov­ern­ment witch hunt” and accus­ing the gov­ern­ment of venue shop­ping. Say­ing Shea “should have been tried in a South­ern state,” the juror pur­port­ed­ly claimed that the gov­ern­ment instead brought the case in New York City because they “knew peo­ple here vote dif­fer­ent­ly.”

    Judge Tor­res allowed the juror to remain on the pan­el and con­tin­ue delib­er­at­ing after pri­vate­ly ques­tion­ing him in cham­bers.

    ...

    CNN report­ed last week that the Man­hat­tan dis­trict attorney’s office has issued sub­poe­nas as part of crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into Bannon’s fundrais­ing efforts, which could poten­tial­ly lead to state charges against the one­time advis­er par­doned by for­mer Pres­i­dent Trump.
    ...

    We’ll see if Steve Ban­non ends up fac­ing charges in New York State over his involve­ment in this bla­tant scam. But as this sto­ry makes clear, jury-shop­ping is a viable strat­e­gy for Ban­non and oth­er Trump-affil­i­at­ed fig­ures find­ing them­selves on tri­al. Because when ‘Rober­to’ was hung up on the loca­tion of the tri­al, he was implic­it­ly sug­gest­ing that a jury of Trump-sup­port­ing con­ser­v­a­tives would have been per­fect­ly fine with the bla­tant fundrais­er scam­ming Ban­non was engaged in. Because for Rober­to, the tri­al of Tim Shea was­n’t about the alleged crimes he com­mit­ted. No, it was instead all part of the larg­er cul­ture war and Big Gov­ern­ment per­se­cu­tion of con­ser­v­a­tives. Big Lib­er­al Gov­ern­ment was on tri­al for per­se­cut­ing con­ser­v­a­tives. Refus­ing to con­vict was Rober­to’s method of vot­ing the gov­ern­ment guilty. Guilty of rig­ging the tri­al against Shea and guilty of being per­se­cut­ing con­ser­v­a­tives in gen­er­al.

    So we have to ask: is this an anom­alous case of jury nul­li­fi­ca­tion? Or a sign of things to come? It’s a poten­tial­ly big ques­tion. And not just for any future poten­tial pros­e­cu­tions of Steve Ban­non, whether it’s a state-lev­el pros­e­cu­tion of the We Build the Wall scam or maybe pros­e­cu­tions relat­ed to his many oth­er scams. Don’t for­get that pros­e­cu­tions in rela­tion to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion involve juries too. And while the juries that have been judg­ing the cas­es involv­ing the numer­ous low-lev­el insur­rec­tion haven’t been shy­ing from arriv­ing at con­vic­tions, it’s not just going to be low-lev­el peo­ple no one put on tri­al over the insur­rec­tion. At least hope­ful­ly not.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 1, 2022, 2:53 pm
  6. With the prospects of the GOP cap­ture of one or both hous­es of con­gress in the upcom­ing midterm elec­tions two weeks from now seem­ing­ly grow­ing by the day, here’s a fas­ci­nat­ing inter­view just pub­lished in Vox of a fig­ure whose influ­ence is only going to grow­ing in the ensu­ing peri­od of gov­ern­ment grid­lock and tur­moil in the lead up to the 2024 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle. A fig­ure who has seen his influ­ence qui­et­ly grow­ing in con­ser­v­a­tive cir­cles for well over a decade now: Cur­tis “Men­cious Mold­bug” Yarvin, the intel­lec­tu­al god­fa­ther of the ‘Dark Enlight­en­ment’. As we’ve seen, in addi­tion to Yarv­in’s role as a kind of ide­o­log­i­cal fel­low trav­el­er of Peter Thiel and an influ­ence on Seast­eading move­ment, Yarvin is also report­ed­ly close to Steve Ban­non, cre­at­ing a backchan­nel between Yarvin and the Trump White House. Yarvin and Ban­non even worked togeth­er to turn Bri­et­bart into a main­stream­ing vehi­cle for the ‘Alt Right’.

    That was Yarv­in’s grow­ing stature in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment back in 2016 and 2017 at the start of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. The elec­tion of Trump was, in many respects, the cul­mi­na­tion of Yarv­in’s polit­i­cal ambi­tions. Or at least the start of that cul­mi­na­tion. But as the fol­low­ing arti­cle makes clear, there was anoth­er event since Trump’s elec­tion that has only pro­pelled Yarv­in’s rel­e­vance to greater heights inside the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment: the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. It was almost every­thing Yarvin has been pin­ing for. And Yarvin appears to be doing what he can to ensure the next coup attempt is far more suc­cess­ful. And more pop­u­lar.

    It’s the pre­dict­ed pop­u­lar­i­ty of the next coup attempt that is per­haps the most dis­turb­ing part of Yarv­in’s new writ­ings. Dis­turb­ing because it’s hard to dis­agree with that assess­ment post-Jan 6. Yarvin even calls for the next GOP can­di­date to open­ly cam­paign on the idea of just seiz­ing pow­er upon get­ting elect­ed. Do it under the ban­ner of sav­ing the coun­try and the pub­lic will love it. Then, upon get­ting elect­ed, Trump (or who­ev­er the new Cae­sar ends up being ) should acti­vate his based of sup­port­ers into a kind of vig­i­lante mob army that takes to the streets in sup­port of his agen­da. An agen­da that would involve the mass fir­ing of vir­tu­al­ly all fed­er­al work­ers and the replace­ment of those agen­cies with new enti­ties. Courts would be demot­ed to an ‘advi­so­ry’ role and could be ignore. The threat of impeach­ment would be nul­li­fied because non-loy­al mem­bers of the pres­i­den­t’s par­ty would be purged in the pri­maries. Polic­ing pow­ers would be cen­tral­ized and local and state gov­ern­ments under Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol would be nul­li­fied. It would all have to hap­pen so rapid­ly that the gen­er­al pub­lic is left con­fused and over­whelmed. A fas­cist bureau­crat­ic blitzkrieg.

    And if this sounds like an out­landish idea that even today’s rad­i­cal­ized GOP would­n’t sup­port, that’s demon­stra­bly not the case. Ohio GOP Sen­ate can­di­date JD Vance — who is wide­ly seen as a proxy for Peter Thiel — has already said Trump real­ly should car­ry out mass fir­ings at the begin­ning of a sec­ond term and just ignore the courts if they try to block it. Vance appears to be on the verge of get­ting elect­ed in two weeks as part of what could be the GOP cap­ture of con­gress. A cap­ture of con­gress that is almost cer­tain ensure no mean­ing­ful leg­is­la­tion will hap­pen for the next two years. Noth­ing will be solved. Prob­lems will only be cre­at­ed. And that brings us to the oth­er big part of Yarv­in’s plot: He wants to have as much left-wing buy-in as pos­si­ble on the new Cae­sar mod­el for the US. How is is plan­ning on get­ting that buy-in? Through despair. Break­ing faith in the idea that democ­ra­cy even can work is at the core of the plot.

    Yarvin appears to view the US as already being so far down that path of civic despair that he imag­ines some­one being able to run­ning and win­ning on this ‘I’m going to end democ­ra­cy to save the coun­try’ in 2024. And, real­ly, is he wrong? So with the US set for a renewed round of utter­ly bro­ken gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing the mid-terms, it’s going to be impor­tant to keep in mind that break­ing the func­tion­ing of gov­ern­ment isn’t just a plot to get frus­trat­ed vot­ers to vot­er for Repub­li­cans in 2024. We’re well past that. At this point, it’s going to be part of a plot to frus­trate vot­ers so much that the vote to end democ­ra­cy in 2024:

    Vox

    Cur­tis Yarvin wants Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy top­pled. He has some promi­nent Repub­li­can fans.

    The New Right blog­ger has been cit­ed by Blake Mas­ters and J.D. Vance. What exact­ly is he advo­cat­ing?

    By Andrew Prokop
    Oct 24, 2022, 5:00am EDT

    In Sep­tem­ber 2021, J.D. Vance, a GOP can­di­date for Sen­ate in Ohio, appeared on a con­ser­v­a­tive pod­cast to dis­cuss what is to be done with the Unit­ed States, and his pro­pos­als were dra­mat­ic. He urged Don­ald Trump, should he win anoth­er term, to “seize the insti­tu­tions of the left,” fire “every sin­gle midlev­el bureau­crat” in the US gov­ern­ment, “replace them with our peo­ple,” and defy the Supreme Court if it tries to stop him.

    To the unini­ti­at­ed, all that might seem stun­ning. But Vance acknowl­edged he had an intel­lec­tu­al inspi­ra­tion. “So there’s this guy, Cur­tis Yarvin, who has writ­ten about some of these things...”

    Near­ly a decade ear­li­er, a Stan­ford law stu­dent named Blake Mas­ters, asked by a friend for read­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for a book club, emailed a link to a set of blog posts. These posts made an argu­ment that was quite unusu­al in the Amer­i­can con­text, assert­ing that the demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed US gov­ern­ment should be abol­ished and replaced with a monar­chy. Its author, then writ­ing pseu­do­ny­mous­ly, was Yarvin.

    Mas­ters is now the GOP Sen­ate nom­i­nee in Ari­zona. At a cam­paign event last year, accord­ing to Van­i­ty Fair’s James Pogue, he was asked how he’d actu­al­ly drain the swamp in Wash­ing­ton. “One of my friends has this acronym he calls RAGE — Retire All Gov­ern­ment Employ­ees,” Mas­ters answered. You’ve prob­a­bly guessed who the friend is.

    In many thou­sand words’ worth of blog posts over the past 15 years, com­put­er pro­gram­mer and tech start­up founder Cur­tis Yarvin has laid out a cri­tique of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy: argu­ing that it’s lib­er­als in elite aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions, media out­lets, and the per­ma­nent bureau­cra­cy who hold true pow­er in this declin­ing coun­try, while the US exec­u­tive branch has become weak, incom­pe­tent, and cap­tured.

    But he stands out among right-wing com­men­ta­tors for being prob­a­bly the sin­gle per­son who’s spent the most time gam­ing out how, exact­ly, the US gov­ern­ment could be top­pled and replaced — “reboot­ed” or “reset,” as he likes to say — with a monarch, CEO, or dic­ta­tor at the helm. Yarvin argues that a cre­ative and vision­ary leader — a “start­up guy,” like, he says, Napoleon or Lenin was — should seize absolute pow­er, dis­man­tle the old regime, and build some­thing new in its place.

    To Yarvin, incre­men­tal reforms and half-mea­sures are nec­es­sar­i­ly doomed. The only way to achieve what he wants is to assume “absolute pow­er,” and the game is all about get­ting to a place where you can pull that off. Crit­ics have called his ideas “fas­cist” — a term he dis­putes, argu­ing that cen­tral­iz­ing pow­er under one ruler long pre­dates fas­cism, and that his ide­al monarch should rule for all rather than foment­ing a class war as fas­cists do. “Auto­crat­ic” fits as a descrip­tor, though his pre­ferred term is “monar­chist.” You won’t find many on the right say­ing they whol­ly sup­port Yarvin’s pro­gram — espe­cial­ly the “monar­chy” thing — but his cri­tique of the sta­tus quo and some of his ideas for chang­ing it have influ­enced sev­er­al increas­ing­ly promi­nent fig­ures.

    Besides Vance and Mas­ters (whose cam­paigns declined to com­ment for this sto­ry), Yarvin has had a decade-long asso­ci­a­tion with bil­lion­aire Peter Thiel, who is sim­i­lar­ly dis­il­lu­sioned with democ­ra­cy and Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment. “I no longer believe that free­dom and democ­ra­cy are com­pat­i­ble,” Thiel wrote in 2009, and ear­li­er this year, he declared that Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress who vot­ed for Trump’s impeach­ment after the Jan­u­ary 6 attacks were “trai­tor­ous.” Fox host Tuck­er Carl­son is anoth­er fan, inter­view­ing Yarvin with some fas­ci­na­tion for his stream­ing pro­gram last year. He’s even influ­enced online dis­course — Yarvin was the first to pop­u­lar­ize the anal­o­gy from The Matrix of being “red­pilled” or “-pilled,” sud­den­ly los­ing your illu­sions and see­ing the sup­posed real­i­ty of the world more clear­ly, as applied to pol­i­tics.

    Over­all, Yarvin is arguably the lead­ing intel­lec­tu­al fig­ure on the New Right — a move­ment of thinkers and activists crit­i­cal of the tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment who argue that an elite left “rul­ing class” has cap­tured and is ruin­ing Amer­i­ca, and that dras­tic mea­sures are nec­es­sary to fight back against them. And New Right ideas are get­ting more influ­en­tial among Repub­li­can staffers and politi­cians. Trump’s advis­ers are already brain­storm­ing Yarvi­nite — or at least Yarvin-lite — ideas for the sec­ond term, such as fir­ing thou­sands of fed­er­al civ­il ser­vants and replac­ing them with Trump loy­al­ists. With hun­dreds of “elec­tion deniers” on the bal­lot this year, anoth­er dis­put­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could hap­pen soon — and Yarvin has writ­ten a play­book for the pow­er grab he hopes will then unfold.

    So these ideas are no longer entire­ly just abstract mus­ings — it’s unclear how many pow­er­ful peo­ple may take Yarvin entire­ly lit­er­al­ly, but many do take him seri­ous­ly. And after the 2020 elec­tion cri­sis, the fall of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy seems rather more plau­si­ble than it used to. To bet­ter under­stand the ideas influ­enc­ing a grow­ing num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive elites now, and the bat­tles that may lie ahead, then, I reviewed much of Yarvin’s siz­able body of work, and I inter­viewed him.

    Dur­ing our lengthy con­ver­sa­tion, Yarvin argued that the even­tu­al fall of US democ­ra­cy could be “fun­da­men­tal­ly joy­ous and peace­ful.” Yet the steps Pres­i­dent Trump took in that direc­tion after the 2020 elec­tion were not par­tic­u­lar­ly joy­ous or peace­ful, and it was hard for me to see why fur­ther move­ment down that road would be.

    From obscure “anti-democ­ra­cy” blog­ger to New Right influ­encer

    In Yarvin’s telling, his polit­i­cal awak­en­ing occurred dur­ing the 2004 elec­tion. A com­put­er pro­gram­mer liv­ing in Sil­i­con Val­ley, he was then an avid read­er of polit­i­cal blogs, fol­low­ing the “Swift Boat Vet­er­ans for Truth” scan­dal about whether Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee John Ker­ry had lied about aspects of his mil­i­tary ser­vice. Yarvin thought it was clear Ker­ry had lied, and felt the media went to stun­ning lengths to pro­tect him and smear his accusers. But he also became dis­il­lu­sioned with the con­ser­v­a­tive response, which he thought amount­ed to inef­fec­tive­ly com­plain­ing about “media bias” and con­tin­u­ing with pol­i­tics as usu­al. The prob­lem, he felt, was far deep­er.

    An intense peri­od of read­ing old books on polit­i­cal the­o­ry and his­to­ry to con­tem­plate how sys­tems work fol­lowed. Even­tu­al­ly, he (as he lat­er put it) “stopped believ­ing in democ­ra­cy,” com­par­ing this real­iza­tion to how for­mer­ly reli­gious peo­ple feel when they stop believ­ing in God. Soon, he began post­ing blog com­ments, and then writ­ing a self-described “anti-democ­ra­cy blog” begin­ning in 2007, under the pseu­do­nym “Men­cius Mold­bug.” In these writ­ings — dis­cur­sive, filled with his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, wry, and often glee­ful­ly offen­sive — he laid out a sort of grand the­o­ry of why Amer­i­ca is bro­ken, and how it can be fixed:

    * The US gov­ern­ment is a scle­rot­ic, decay­ing insti­tu­tion that can no longer achieve great or even com­pe­tent things and, as he now puts it, “just sucks.” Con­strained by the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers and Con­gress, the pres­i­dent has “neg­li­gi­ble pow­er” to achieve his agen­da in con­trast to the “deep state” bureau­cra­cy and the non­prof­its that are per­ma­nent fix­tures of Washington’s gov­ern­ing class.
    * True pow­er in the US is held by “the Cathe­dral” — elite aca­d­e­m­ic and media insti­tu­tions that, in Yarvin’s telling, set the bounds of accept­able polit­i­cal dis­course and dis­tort real­i­ty to fit their pre­ferred ide­o­log­i­cal frames. This does not unfold as a cen­tral­ized con­spir­a­cy, but rather through a shared world­view and cul­ture, and it’s his expla­na­tion for why soci­ety keeps mov­ing to the left through the decades.
    * It’s not just the cur­rent gov­ern­ment that sucks — democ­ra­cy sucks, too. Some­times he denounces democ­ra­cy entire­ly, call­ing it a “dan­ger­ous, malig­nant form of gov­ern­ment.” Some­times he says democ­ra­cy doesn’t even prac­ti­cal­ly exist in the US, because vot­ers don’t have true pow­er over the gov­ern­ment as com­pared to those oth­er inter­ests, which func­tion as an oli­garchy. Some­times he argues that orga­ni­za­tions in which lead­er­ship is shared or divid­ed sim­ply aren’t effec­tive.
    * Far prefer­able, in his view, would be a gov­ern­ment run like most cor­po­ra­tions — with one leader hold­ing absolute pow­er over those below, though per­haps account­able to a “board of direc­tors” of sorts (he admits that “an unac­count­able autoc­ra­cy is a real prob­lem”). This monarch/CEO would have the abil­i­ty to actu­al­ly run things, unboth­ered by pesky civ­il ser­vants, judges, vot­ers, the pub­lic, or the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers. “How do we achieve effec­tive man­age­ment? We know one sim­ple way: find the right per­son, and put him or her in charge,” he writes.

    For years, Yarvin was some­thing of an odd inter­net curios­i­ty, with his ideas far from most polit­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives’ radar. He gained one promi­nent read­er — Thiel, who had writ­ten about his own dis­il­lu­sion­ment with democ­ra­cy, became a Yarvin friend, and fund­ed his start­up. “He’s ful­ly enlight­ened,” Yarvin lat­er wrote of Thiel in an email, “just plays it very care­ful­ly.” (Thiel did not respond to a request for com­ment.) Beyond that, ideas blog­gers like Robin Han­son and Scott Alexan­der argued with him, and he grad­u­al­ly got more atten­tion for being a lead­ing fig­ure in the “neo­re­ac­tionary” move­ment.

    Though his blog was pseu­do­ny­mous, he had not made a par­tic­u­lar­ly exten­sive effort to keep his iden­ti­ty secret, appear­ing in per­son as Mold­bug to give a talk at a con­fer­ence in 2012. In the fol­low­ing years, jour­nal­ists began to write about him by name, and though he soon put his blog on hia­tus to focus on his start­up, out­rage over some of his writ­ings con­tin­ued to fol­low him. Yarvin was dis­in­vit­ed from one tech con­fer­ence in 2015 after protests, and his appear­ance at anoth­er in 2016 led sev­er­al spon­sors and speak­ers to with­draw.

    The stick­ing points com­mon­ly cit­ed by his crit­ics includ­ed one Mold­bug post on his­tor­i­cal thought about slav­ery, which was seized on as proof that he was “pro-slav­ery” and racist. In a response, he said he believes in the bio­log­i­cal roots of intel­li­gence and does not believe that all pop­u­la­tions (or racial groups) are equal­ly intel­li­gent, on aver­age. But he insist­ed racism was “despi­ca­ble” and said he did not believe Euro­peans have any inher­ent or “moral supe­ri­or­i­ty” over oth­er races. Anoth­er post that spurred out­rage dis­cussed far-right Nor­we­gian mass mur­der­er Anders Breivik — Yarvin argued that the polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions of left heroes like Che Gue­vara and Nel­son Man­dela also mur­dered civil­ians, and they should face con­dem­na­tion, too.

    Yarvin was out of the blog­ging game for the ear­ly Trump years (though he did attend Thiel’s watch par­ty for the 2016 elec­tion). But in his time away, his influ­ence grew. To some on the right, Yarvin’s long­time obses­sions seemed both pre­scient and clar­i­fy­ing. The “Cathe­dral” antic­i­pat­ed the “Great Awok­en­ing” and the social jus­tice wars, as Jacob Siegel has writ­ten. Pres­i­den­tial pow­er­less­ness before the “deep state” pre­dict­ed Trump’s strug­gles in get­ting his agen­da done.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, Trump him­self proved a fil­ter of sorts to the con­ser­v­a­tive intel­lec­tu­al class. As the pres­i­dent dis­dained the norms of clas­si­cal­ly lib­er­al democ­ra­cy, con­ser­v­a­tives who were attached to those norms either self-select­ed out of the par­ty or got purged. The pro-Trump intel­lec­tu­al space was tak­en by the New Right, thinkers argu­ing the left’s con­trol of cul­ture, soci­ety, and gov­ern­ment have got­ten so bad that extreme mea­sures were nec­es­sary to reverse it — and that pre­vi­ous GOP lead­ers were too hes­i­tant to ful­ly rec­og­nize they’re in a war and need to fight back.

    Take, for instance, Vance. In explain­ing to pod­cast host Jack Mur­phy why he became a Trump sup­port­er after ini­tial­ly dis­dain­ing him, Vance said, “I saw and real­ized some­thing about the Amer­i­can elite, and about my role in the Amer­i­can elite, that took me just a while to fig­ure out. I was red­pilled” — using the ref­er­ence Yarvin helped pop­u­lar­ize. “We are in a late repub­li­can peri­od,” Vance told Mur­phy. “If we’re going to push back against it, we’re going to have to get pret­ty wild, and pret­ty far out there, and go in direc­tions that a lot of con­ser­v­a­tives right now are uncom­fort­able with.”

    After Yarvin stepped away from his start­up (the com­pa­ny behind the open source soft­ware project Urbit) in 2019, The Amer­i­can Mind, the online pub­li­ca­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tive think tank the Clare­mont Insti­tute, began pub­lish­ing his essays, effec­tive­ly wel­com­ing him into the now-main­stream dis­course on the right. He became a fre­quent guest on New Right pod­casts, and in 2020 he start­ed a Sub­stack, at first using it to post excerpts from an in-progress book but even­tu­al­ly return­ing to his blog­ging roots. Then, when Trump tried and failed to over­turn that year’s elec­tion result, Yarvin’s long­time inter­est in “regime change” sud­den­ly became far more rel­e­vant.

    How to win absolute pow­er in Wash­ing­ton

    Talk of an Amer­i­can coup may sound bizarre, but coups are not that weird. They hap­pen in oth­er coun­tries, and in Yarvin’s telling, they’ve even hap­pened in the US, sort of. He argues that Alexan­der Hamil­ton, Abra­ham Lin­coln, and Franklin D. Roo­sevelt each so sweep­ing­ly expand­ed pres­i­den­tial pow­er, cen­tral­iz­ing author­i­ty and estab­lish­ing new depart­ments, that they can be said to have found­ed new regimes.

    But Yarvin wants to see some­thing even more dra­mat­ic. In posts such as “Reflec­tions on the late elec­tion” and “The but­ter­fly rev­o­lu­tion,” and pod­cast appear­ances such as those with for­mer Trump offi­cial Michael Anton and writer Bri­an Chau, Yarvin has laid out many spe­cif­ic ideas about how the sys­tem could real­ly be ful­ly top­pled and replaced with some­thing like a cen­tral­ized monar­chy. Some­times he frames this as what Trump should have done in 2020, what he should (but won’t) do in 2024, or what some oth­er can­di­date should do in the future, if they want to seize pow­er. “Trump will nev­er do any­thing like this,” Yarvin wrote. “But I won’t dis­guise my belief that some­one should. Some­one wor­thy of the task, of course.”

    It is basi­cal­ly a set of thought exper­i­ments about how to dis­man­tle US democ­ra­cy and its cur­rent sys­tem of gov­ern­ment. Writer John Ganz, review­ing some of Yarvin’s pro­pos­als, con­clud­ed, “If that’s not the prod­uct of a fas­cist imag­i­na­tion, I don’t know what pos­si­bly could be.” Many of these are sim­i­lar to events pre­ced­ing the fall of democ­ra­cies else­where in the world. Again, Yarvin’s promi­nent fans like Vance and Mas­ters wouldn’t ful­ly endorse this pro­gram — Mas­ters told NBC that he would have “a dif­fer­ent pre­scrip­tion” of what to do than Yarvin, and that he believes in the Con­sti­tu­tion — but some aspects of it have caught their inter­est.

    Cam­paign on it, and win: First off, the would-be dic­ta­tor should seek a man­date from the peo­ple, by run­ning for pres­i­dent and open­ly cam­paign­ing on the plat­form of, as he put it to Chau, “If I’m elect­ed, I’m gonna assume absolute pow­er in Wash­ing­ton and rebuild the gov­ern­ment.”

    The idea here would be not to frame this as destroy­ing the Amer­i­can sys­tem, but rather as improv­ing a bro­ken sys­tem that so many are frus­trat­ed with. Con­gress is unpop­u­lar, the courts are unpop­u­lar, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is unpop­u­lar. Why not just promise to gov­ern as pres­i­dent as you see fit, with­out their inter­fer­ence? And see if peo­ple like that idea?

    “You’re not that far from a world in which you can have a can­di­date in 2024, even, maybe,” mak­ing that pledge, Yarvin con­tin­ued. “I think you could get away with it. That’s sort of what peo­ple already thought was hap­pen­ing with Trump,” he said. “To do it for real does not make them much more hys­ter­i­cal, and” — he laughed — “it’s actu­al­ly much more effec­tive!”

    It no longer seems clear that vot­ers would reject such a pitch. Trump’s ascen­dan­cy already proves that many Amer­i­can vot­ers are no longer so enam­ored of niceties about the rule of law and civics class pieties about the great­ness of the Amer­i­can sep­a­rat­ed pow­ers sys­tem. Polit­i­cal mes­sag­ing about “threats to democ­ra­cy” has polled poor­ly this year, with vot­ers not par­tic­u­lar­ly engaged by it.

    Anoth­er piece of advice Yarvin has in this vein is that the would-be dic­ta­tor should try to pre­vent blue Amer­i­ca from feel­ing so ter­ri­fied about the new regime that they take to the streets and make it all fall apart. Instead, ide­al­ly, lib­er­als and left­ists should feel so dis­il­lu­sioned with the sta­tus quo that they’re ready for some­thing new. (He thought things were on a promis­ing tra­jec­to­ry on this front dur­ing the ear­ly Biden admin­is­tra­tion, but has griped that the Dobbs deci­sion may have scut­tled this by fir­ing up blue Amer­i­ca.)

    Purge the fed­er­al bureau­cra­cy and cre­ate a new one: Once the new pres­i­den­t/­would-be monarch is elect­ed, Yarvin thinks time is of the essence. “The speed that this hap­pens with has to take everyone’s breath away,” he told Chau. “It should just exe­cute at a rate that total­ly baf­fles its ene­mies.”

    Yarvin says the tran­si­tion peri­od before inau­gu­ra­tion should be used to inten­sive­ly study what’s essen­tial for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to do, deter­mine a struc­ture for the new gov­ern­ment, and hire many of its future employ­ees. Then, once in pow­er, it’s time to “Retire All Gov­ern­ment Employ­ees” of the old regime, send­ing them off with nice pen­sions so they won’t make too much of a fuss. To cir­cum­vent Con­gress, the pres­i­dent should have his appointees take over the Fed­er­al Reserve, and direct the Fed on how to fund the new regime.

    Talk of fir­ing vast swaths of fed­er­al work­ers is now com­mon on the right. In late 2020, Trump issued an exec­u­tive order called “Sched­ule F” that would reclas­si­fy as many as 50,000 civ­il ser­vants in mid­dle man­age­ment as polit­i­cal appointees who could be fired and replaced by the new pres­i­dent. Noth­ing came of it, and Biden quick­ly revoked it, but Trump’s regime-in-exile is brain­storm­ing what could be done with it in a sec­ond term, as Axios’s Jonathan Swan has report­ed.

    To Yarvin, even that is a doomed half-mea­sure. “You should be exe­cut­ing exec­u­tive pow­er from day one in a total­ly emer­gency fash­ion,” he told Anton. “You don’t want to take con­trol of these agen­cies through appoint­ments, you want to defund them. You want them to total­ly cease to exist.” This would of course involve some amount of chaos, but Yarvin hopes that will be brief, and the actu­al­ly essen­tial work of gov­ern­ment would quick­ly be tak­en over by new­ly cre­at­ed bod­ies that could be under the autocrat’s con­trol.

    Ignore the courts: The rule of law in Amer­i­ca is based on shared beliefs and behav­iors among many actors through­out the sys­tem, but it has no mag­i­cal pow­er. The courts have no mech­a­nism to actu­al­ly force a pres­i­dent to abide by their wish­es should he defy their rul­ings. Yet, with cer­tain notable excep­tions, they have had an extra­or­di­nary track record at get­ting pres­i­dents to stay in line. Defy­ing the Supreme Court means end­ing the rule of law in the US as it has long been under­stood.

    Yarvin has sug­gest­ed just that — that a new pres­i­dent should sim­ply say he has con­clud­ed Mar­bury v. Madi­son — the ear­ly rul­ing in which the Supreme Court great­ly expand­ed its own pow­ers — was wrong­ly decid­ed. He’s also said the new pres­i­dent should declare a state of emer­gency and say he would view Supreme Court rul­ings as mere­ly advi­so­ry.

    Would politi­cians back this? J.D. Vance, in the pod­cast men­tioned above, said part of his advice for Trump in his sec­ond term would involve fir­ing vast swaths of fed­er­al employ­ees, “and when the courts stop you, stand before the coun­try like Andrew Jack­son did, and say, ‘The chief jus­tice has made his rul­ing. Now let him enforce it.’”

    Co-opt Con­gress: One rea­son past pres­i­dents may have been reluc­tant to defy the Supreme Court is that there is one body that can keep them in check — Con­gress, which can impeach and actu­al­ly remove a pres­i­dent from office, and ban him from run­ning again.

    Now, con­gres­sion­al majori­ties have been grad­u­al­ly get­ting more def­er­en­tial to their party’s pres­i­dents. Yet the threat of impeach­ment and removal hung over much of Trump’s deci­sion-mak­ing and like­ly pre­vent­ed him from going fur­ther in sev­er­al key moments. For instance, he didn’t fire spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller, and he backed down and left office after Jan­u­ary 6 (while Mitch McConnell’s allies were leak­ing that the GOP Sen­ate leader might sup­port impeach­ment, in an appar­ent threat to Trump). Con­gress also fre­quent­ly cut Trump out of pol­i­cy­mak­ing, ignor­ing his veto threats.

    Yarvin’s idea here is that Trump (or insert future would-be auto­crat here) should cre­ate an app — “the Trump app” — and get his sup­port­ers to sign up for it. Trump should then hand­pick can­di­dates for every con­gres­sion­al and Sen­ate seat whose sole pur­pose would be to ful­ly sup­port him and his agen­da, and use the app to get his vot­ers to vote for them in pri­maries. Trump has been pick­ing pri­ma­ry favorites and had some suc­cess in open seat con­tests, but this would be a far more large-scale, strate­gic, and sys­tem­at­ic effort.

    The goal would be to cre­ate a per­son­al­is­tic major­i­ty that nul­li­fies the impeach­ment and removal threat, and that gives the pres­i­dent the num­bers to pass what­ev­er leg­is­la­tion he wants. If you can win majori­ties in this way, then “con­grat­u­la­tions, you’ve turned the US into a par­lia­men­tary dic­ta­tor­ship,” Yarvin told Chau. Effec­tive­ly, the US’s Madis­on­ian sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers will have been made moot.

    ...

    Cen­tral­ize police and gov­ern­ment pow­ers: Mov­ing for­ward in the state of emer­gency, Yarvin told Anton the new gov­ern­ment should then take “direct con­trol over all law enforce­ment author­i­ties,” fed­er­al­ize the Nation­al Guard, and effec­tive­ly cre­ate a nation­al police force that absorbs local bod­ies. This amounts to estab­lish­ing a cen­tral­ized police state to back the pow­er grab — as auto­crats typ­i­cal­ly do.

    Whether this is at all plau­si­ble in the US any­time soon — well, you’ll have to ask the Nation­al Guard and police offi­cers. “You have to be will­ing to say, okay, when we have this regime change, we have a peri­od of tem­po­rary uncer­tain­ty which has to be resolved in an extreme­ly peace­ful way,” he says.

    Yarvin also wants his new monarch’s absolute pow­er to be tru­ly absolute, which can’t real­ly hap­pen so long as there are so many inde­pen­dent­ly elect­ed gov­ern­ment pow­er cen­ters in (espe­cial­ly blue) states and cities. So they’ll have to be abol­ished in “almost” all cas­es. This would sure­ly be a tow­er­ing logis­ti­cal chal­lenge and cre­ate a great deal of resis­tance, to put it mild­ly.

    Shut down elite media and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions: Now, recall that, accord­ing to Yarvin’s the­o­ries, true pow­er is held by “the Cathe­dral,” so they have to go, too. The new monarch/dictator should order them dis­solved. “You can’t con­tin­ue to have a Har­vard or a New York Times past the start of April,” he told Anton. After that, he says, peo­ple should be allowed to form new asso­ci­a­tions and insti­tu­tions if they want, but the exist­ing Cathe­dral pow­er bases must be torn down.

    Turn out your peo­ple: Final­ly, through­out this process, Yarvin wants to be able to get the new ruler’s sup­port­ers to take to the streets. “You don’t real­ly need an armed force, you need the max­i­mum capac­i­ty to sum­mon demo­c­ra­t­ic pow­er that you can find,” he told Anton. He point­ed to the “Trump app” idea again, which he said could col­lect 80 mil­lion cell num­bers and noti­fy peo­ple to tell them where to go and protest (“peace­ful­ly”) — for instance, they could go to an agency that’s defy­ing the new leader’s instruc­tions, to tell them, “sup­port the law­ful orders of this new law­ful author­i­ty.”

    He points to the post-Sovi­et rev­o­lu­tions in East­ern Europe as a mod­el, say­ing the enor­mous mass of peo­ple “shouldn’t be men­ac­ing in this Jan­u­ary 6 sense, it should have this joy­ous sense that you’re actu­al­ly win­ning and win­ning for­ev­er and the world is being com­plete­ly remade.” And he says that though many police offi­cers fol­low orders dur­ing their day jobs, many of them also sup­port Trump — so per­haps they could sig­nal that by putting on “a spe­cial arm­band.”

    “If the insti­tu­tions deny the Pres­i­dent the Con­sti­tu­tion­al posi­tion he has legal­ly won in the elec­tion, the vot­ers will have to act direct­ly,” Yarvin wrote. “Trump will call his peo­ple into the streets—not at the end of his term, when he is most pow­er­less; at the start, when he is most pow­er­ful. No one wants to see this nuclear option hap­pen. Prepar­ing for it and demon­strat­ing the capac­i­ty to exe­cute it will pre­vent it from hav­ing to hap­pen.”

    Sow­ing seeds of doubt in democ­ra­cy

    Yarvin and I spoke for near­ly two and a half hours recent­ly. He pep­pered his com­ments with hun­dreds of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, and, as he often does with left inter­locu­tors, he focused on areas where he appeared to believe he could find com­mon ground. He was at pains to reas­sure me that he didn’t believe the US regime was going to fall any­time soon, say­ing this was a “gen­er­a­tional, not imme­di­ate” process.

    “Part of my project now is to say let’s make this a lit­tle less of an abstrac­tion, let’s imag­ine what it might look like in a way that it doesn’t scare any­one,” he said. “It is dan­ger­ous! Any kind of seri­ous polit­i­cal change is dan­ger­ous. And where we are is also dan­ger­ous,” he said. He named specif­i­cal­ly the pos­si­bil­i­ty of nuclear war in Ukraine, which does seem quite dan­ger­ous, though it can­not be laid sole­ly at the feet of democ­ra­cy. And while say­ing he was not exact­ly a fan of FDR, he sang the prais­es of New Deal Wash­ing­ton as a time when the US gov­ern­ment could actu­al­ly achieve impres­sive things, bemoan­ing that it no longer can.

    ...

    But of course Yarvin’s vil­lains (the media, acad­e­mia, the “deep state”) are dif­fer­ent from the vil­lains in the pro­gres­sive sto­ry (mon­eyed inter­ests, big­otry or sys­temic bias, reli­gious extrem­ists, igno­rant red-staters). And what he’d want his monarch to do with all that pow­er is dif­fer­ent, too: He’s writ­ten about his idea to deter crime by putting an ankle mon­i­tor on any­one who’s not rich or employed, and to cre­ate “relo­ca­tion cen­ters” for “deciv­i­lized sub­pop­u­la­tions.”

    ...

    Even if the dark­est sce­nar­ios don’t come about, scle­ro­sis and decay are hard­ly prob­lems unique to demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tems — they’ve affect­ed autoc­ra­cies through­out his­to­ry, up to today. It is dif­fi­cult to ensure the leader’s incen­tives are focused on good gov­er­nance rather than on entrench­ing him­self in pow­er. The cor­po­rate mod­el, which Yarvin prais­es, also often leads to dys­func­tion­al bureau­cra­cy, not to men­tion that gov­ern­ing a coun­try might sim­ply be a dif­fer­ent sort of prob­lem than run­ning a com­pa­ny.

    But in a prac­ti­cal sense, Yarvin’s long-term ambi­tions for the new regime mat­ter less than his ideas about how the old one could fall. Yarvin’s pop­u­lar­i­ty among ris­ing Repub­li­cans and New Right intel­lec­tu­als reveals this cohort is more and more will­ing to enter­tain ideas that are out of the main­stream. Some ambi­tious fig­ure, or even Trump him­self, could well try to fol­low his play­book in a future cri­sis.

    If they do, despite Yarvin’s urg­ing that the rev­o­lu­tion should be “absolute­ly blood­less,” there’s no telling how messy things could get. All the dec­la­ra­tions that Amer­i­ca is cur­rent­ly falling apart could look quaint by com­par­i­son to what comes, if the rule of law is shred­ded and the cur­rent order is top­pled. “If you yank out a tooth, you can­not auto­mat­i­cal­ly expect a new and bet­ter tooth to grow back,” the econ­o­mist Tyler Cowen recent­ly wrote, in a cri­tique of the New Right. The best-laid plans of rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies very often go awry.

    ...

    ————

    “Cur­tis Yarvin wants Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy top­pled. He has some promi­nent Repub­li­can fans.” by Andrew Prokop; Vox; 10/24/2022

    “But he stands out among right-wing com­men­ta­tors for being prob­a­bly the sin­gle per­son who’s spent the most time gam­ing out how, exact­ly, the US gov­ern­ment could be top­pled and replaced — “reboot­ed” or “reset,” as he likes to say — with a monarch, CEO, or dic­ta­tor at the helm. Yarvin argues that a cre­ative and vision­ary leader — a “start­up guy,” like, he says, Napoleon or Lenin was — should seize absolute pow­er, dis­man­tle the old regime, and build some­thing new in its place.”

    A lot has changed for Cur­tis Yarvin over the years. He isn’t just focused on pro­mot­ing the Dark Enlight­en­ment phi­los­o­phy. He has a more action­able goal: gam­ing out the col­lapse of the US democ­ra­cy. And as this arti­cle makes clear, he’s no longer some obscure blog­ger rant­i­ng into the wilder­ness. His ideas for how to car­ry out a gov­ern­ment coup are basi­cal­ly main­stream ideas with­in the con­tem­po­rary Trumpi­fied con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment. He’s even has his writ­ings pub­lished by the Clare­mont Insti­tute start­ing in 2019. Recall how the Clare­mont Insti­tute was run­ning the “79 Days report” elec­tion sim­u­la­tions in the final weeks of the 2020 elec­tion that iron­i­cal­ly envi­sioned all sorts of sce­nar­ios involv­ing left­ist mobs occu­py­ing capi­tols. The Clare­mont Insti­tute hap­pens to have John East­man, one of the cen­tral fig­ures in devel­op­ing legal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for the events that led up to the Jan­u­ary 6 Capi­tol insur­rec­tion. You can’t real­ly make sense of the insur­rec­tionary fer­vor of the GOP with­out account­ing for the grow­ing influ­ence of Yarv­in’s ideas:

    ...
    To Yarvin, incre­men­tal reforms and half-mea­sures are nec­es­sar­i­ly doomed. The only way to achieve what he wants is to assume “absolute pow­er,” and the game is all about get­ting to a place where you can pull that off. Crit­ics have called his ideas “fas­cist” — a term he dis­putes, argu­ing that cen­tral­iz­ing pow­er under one ruler long pre­dates fas­cism, and that his ide­al monarch should rule for all rather than foment­ing a class war as fas­cists do. “Auto­crat­ic” fits as a descrip­tor, though his pre­ferred term is “monar­chist.” You won’t find many on the right say­ing they whol­ly sup­port Yarvin’s pro­gram — espe­cial­ly the “monar­chy” thing — but his cri­tique of the sta­tus quo and some of his ideas for chang­ing it have influ­enced sev­er­al increas­ing­ly promi­nent fig­ures.

    ...

    Over­all, Yarvin is arguably the lead­ing intel­lec­tu­al fig­ure on the New Right — a move­ment of thinkers and activists crit­i­cal of the tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment who argue that an elite left “rul­ing class” has cap­tured and is ruin­ing Amer­i­ca, and that dras­tic mea­sures are nec­es­sary to fight back against them. And New Right ideas are get­ting more influ­en­tial among Repub­li­can staffers and politi­cians. Trump’s advis­ers are already brain­storm­ing Yarvi­nite — or at least Yarvin-lite — ideas for the sec­ond term, such as fir­ing thou­sands of fed­er­al civ­il ser­vants and replac­ing them with Trump loy­al­ists. With hun­dreds of “elec­tion deniers” on the bal­lot this year, anoth­er dis­put­ed pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could hap­pen soon — and Yarvin has writ­ten a play­book for the pow­er grab he hopes will then unfold.

    So these ideas are no longer entire­ly just abstract mus­ings — it’s unclear how many pow­er­ful peo­ple may take Yarvin entire­ly lit­er­al­ly, but many do take him seri­ous­ly. And after the 2020 elec­tion cri­sis, the fall of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy seems rather more plau­si­ble than it used to. To bet­ter under­stand the ideas influ­enc­ing a grow­ing num­ber of con­ser­v­a­tive elites now, and the bat­tles that may lie ahead, then, I reviewed much of Yarvin’s siz­able body of work, and I inter­viewed him.

    Dur­ing our lengthy con­ver­sa­tion, Yarvin argued that the even­tu­al fall of US democ­ra­cy could be “fun­da­men­tal­ly joy­ous and peace­ful.” Yet the steps Pres­i­dent Trump took in that direc­tion after the 2020 elec­tion were not par­tic­u­lar­ly joy­ous or peace­ful, and it was hard for me to see why fur­ther move­ment down that road would be.

    ...

    Yarvin was out of the blog­ging game for the ear­ly Trump years (though he did attend Thiel’s watch par­ty for the 2016 elec­tion). But in his time away, his influ­ence grew. To some on the right, Yarvin’s long­time obses­sions seemed both pre­scient and clar­i­fy­ing. The “Cathe­dral” antic­i­pat­ed the “Great Awok­en­ing” and the social jus­tice wars, as Jacob Siegel has writ­ten. Pres­i­den­tial pow­er­less­ness before the “deep state” pre­dict­ed Trump’s strug­gles in get­ting his agen­da done.

    ...

    After Yarvin stepped away from his start­up (the com­pa­ny behind the open source soft­ware project Urbit) in 2019, The Amer­i­can Mind, the online pub­li­ca­tion of the con­ser­v­a­tive think tank the Clare­mont Insti­tute, began pub­lish­ing his essays, effec­tive­ly wel­com­ing him into the now-main­stream dis­course on the right. He became a fre­quent guest on New Right pod­casts, and in 2020 he start­ed a Sub­stack, at first using it to post excerpts from an in-progress book but even­tu­al­ly return­ing to his blog­ging roots. Then, when Trump tried and failed to over­turn that year’s elec­tion result, Yarvin’s long­time inter­est in “regime change” sud­den­ly became far more rel­e­vant.
    ...

    And as Yarvin has observed, his ideas for over­throw­ing democ­ra­cy are already so main­stream with­in the con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment that he now advo­cates that some­one run for the pres­i­den­cy on a plat­form of end­ing democ­ra­cy and seiz­ing pow­er. It would be a pop­u­lar plat­form, as Yarvin sees it. It’s also worth not­ing the keen inter­est of fig­ures like Peter Thiel, Steven Ban­non, and Robert Mer­cer in the grow­ing field of psy­che­del­ic med­i­cine and the evi­dence show­ing that psy­che­delics can help peo­ple resist author­i­tar­i­an world­views. It should be pret­ty clear by now that a pop­u­la­tion gripped by author­i­tar­i­an mind­sets is absolute­ly cen­tral to the futures envi­sioned by these fas­cist net­works:

    ...
    Talk of an Amer­i­can coup may sound bizarre, but coups are not that weird. They hap­pen in oth­er coun­tries, and in Yarvin’s telling, they’ve even hap­pened in the US, sort of. He argues that Alexan­der Hamil­ton, Abra­ham Lin­coln, and Franklin D. Roo­sevelt each so sweep­ing­ly expand­ed pres­i­den­tial pow­er, cen­tral­iz­ing author­i­ty and estab­lish­ing new depart­ments, that they can be said to have found­ed new regimes.

    But Yarvin wants to see some­thing even more dra­mat­ic. In posts such as “Reflec­tions on the late elec­tion” and “The but­ter­fly rev­o­lu­tion,” and pod­cast appear­ances such as those with for­mer Trump offi­cial Michael Anton and writer Bri­an Chau, Yarvin has laid out many spe­cif­ic ideas about how the sys­tem could real­ly be ful­ly top­pled and replaced with some­thing like a cen­tral­ized monar­chy. Some­times he frames this as what Trump should have done in 2020, what he should (but won’t) do in 2024, or what some oth­er can­di­date should do in the future, if they want to seize pow­er. “Trump will nev­er do any­thing like this,” Yarvin wrote. “But I won’t dis­guise my belief that some­one should. Some­one wor­thy of the task, of course.”

    It is basi­cal­ly a set of thought exper­i­ments about how to dis­man­tle US democ­ra­cy and its cur­rent sys­tem of gov­ern­ment. Writer John Ganz, review­ing some of Yarvin’s pro­pos­als, con­clud­ed, “If that’s not the prod­uct of a fas­cist imag­i­na­tion, I don’t know what pos­si­bly could be.” Many of these are sim­i­lar to events pre­ced­ing the fall of democ­ra­cies else­where in the world. Again, Yarvin’s promi­nent fans like Vance and Mas­ters wouldn’t ful­ly endorse this pro­gram — Mas­ters told NBC that he would have “a dif­fer­ent pre­scrip­tion” of what to do than Yarvin, and that he believes in the Con­sti­tu­tion — but some aspects of it have caught their inter­est.

    Cam­paign on it, and win: First off, the would-be dic­ta­tor should seek a man­date from the peo­ple, by run­ning for pres­i­dent and open­ly cam­paign­ing on the plat­form of, as he put it to Chau, “If I’m elect­ed, I’m gonna assume absolute pow­er in Wash­ing­ton and rebuild the gov­ern­ment.”

    The idea here would be not to frame this as destroy­ing the Amer­i­can sys­tem, but rather as improv­ing a bro­ken sys­tem that so many are frus­trat­ed with. Con­gress is unpop­u­lar, the courts are unpop­u­lar, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is unpop­u­lar. Why not just promise to gov­ern as pres­i­dent as you see fit, with­out their inter­fer­ence? And see if peo­ple like that idea?

    “You’re not that far from a world in which you can have a can­di­date in 2024, even, maybe,” mak­ing that pledge, Yarvin con­tin­ued. “I think you could get away with it. That’s sort of what peo­ple already thought was hap­pen­ing with Trump,” he said. “To do it for real does not make them much more hys­ter­i­cal, and” — he laughed — “it’s actu­al­ly much more effec­tive!”

    It no longer seems clear that vot­ers would reject such a pitch. Trump’s ascen­dan­cy already proves that many Amer­i­can vot­ers are no longer so enam­ored of niceties about the rule of law and civics class pieties about the great­ness of the Amer­i­can sep­a­rat­ed pow­ers sys­tem. Polit­i­cal mes­sag­ing about “threats to democ­ra­cy” has polled poor­ly this year, with vot­ers not par­tic­u­lar­ly engaged by it.
    ...

    And after win­ning on a plat­form of con­sol­i­dat­ing pow­er as a new Cae­sar, Yarvin rec­om­mends a kind of bureau­crat­ic blitzkrieg. Mass fir­ings of fed­er­al work­ers under the ‘Sched­ule F’ plot would hap­pen imme­di­ate­ly, with new enti­ties and agen­cies replac­ing them. It’s a recipe for a mass pri­va­ti­za­tion of the gov­ern­ment. And to pay for it all, the new Cae­sar should have his appointees take over the Fed­er­al Reserve:

    ...
    Purge the fed­er­al bureau­cra­cy and cre­ate a new one: Once the new pres­i­den­t/­would-be monarch is elect­ed, Yarvin thinks time is of the essence. “The speed that this hap­pens with has to take everyone’s breath away,” he told Chau. “It should just exe­cute at a rate that total­ly baf­fles its ene­mies.”

    Yarvin says the tran­si­tion peri­od before inau­gu­ra­tion should be used to inten­sive­ly study what’s essen­tial for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to do, deter­mine a struc­ture for the new gov­ern­ment, and hire many of its future employ­ees. Then, once in pow­er, it’s time to “Retire All Gov­ern­ment Employ­ees” of the old regime, send­ing them off with nice pen­sions so they won’t make too much of a fuss. To cir­cum­vent Con­gress, the pres­i­dent should have his appointees take over the Fed­er­al Reserve, and direct the Fed on how to fund the new regime.

    Talk of fir­ing vast swaths of fed­er­al work­ers is now com­mon on the right. In late 2020, Trump issued an exec­u­tive order called “Sched­ule F” that would reclas­si­fy as many as 50,000 civ­il ser­vants in mid­dle man­age­ment as polit­i­cal appointees who could be fired and replaced by the new pres­i­dent. Noth­ing came of it, and Biden quick­ly revoked it, but Trump’s regime-in-exile is brain­storm­ing what could be done with it in a sec­ond term, as Axios’s Jonathan Swan has report­ed.

    To Yarvin, even that is a doomed half-mea­sure. “You should be exe­cut­ing exec­u­tive pow­er from day one in a total­ly emer­gency fash­ion,” he told Anton. “You don’t want to take con­trol of these agen­cies through appoint­ments, you want to defund them. You want them to total­ly cease to exist.” This would of course involve some amount of chaos, but Yarvin hopes that will be brief, and the actu­al­ly essen­tial work of gov­ern­ment would quick­ly be tak­en over by new­ly cre­at­ed bod­ies that could be under the autocrat’s con­trol.
    ...

    The courts would then be demot­ed to an “advi­so­ry” branch of gov­ern­ment and ignored. How believ­able is such a sce­nario? Well, Thiel-backed Ohio Sen­ate can­di­date JD Vance actu­al­ly advo­cat­ed that exact approach for a Trump sec­ond term:

    ...
    Ignore the courts: The rule of law in Amer­i­ca is based on shared beliefs and behav­iors among many actors through­out the sys­tem, but it has no mag­i­cal pow­er. The courts have no mech­a­nism to actu­al­ly force a pres­i­dent to abide by their wish­es should he defy their rul­ings. Yet, with cer­tain notable excep­tions, they have had an extra­or­di­nary track record at get­ting pres­i­dents to stay in line. Defy­ing the Supreme Court means end­ing the rule of law in the US as it has long been under­stood.

    Yarvin has sug­gest­ed just that — that a new pres­i­dent should sim­ply say he has con­clud­ed Mar­bury v. Madi­son — the ear­ly rul­ing in which the Supreme Court great­ly expand­ed its own pow­ers — was wrong­ly decid­ed. He’s also said the new pres­i­dent should declare a state of emer­gency and say he would view Supreme Court rul­ings as mere­ly advi­so­ry.

    Would politi­cians back this? J.D. Vance, in the pod­cast men­tioned above, said part of his advice for Trump in his sec­ond term would involve fir­ing vast swaths of fed­er­al employ­ees, “and when the courts stop you, stand before the coun­try like Andrew Jack­son did, and say, ‘The chief jus­tice has made his rul­ing. Now let him enforce it.’”
    ...

    Then we get to the plan to get around the threat of an impeach­ment: stack­ing the GOP with author­i­tar­i­an loy­al­ists who will back the new Cae­sar in every­thing he does. That’s already the sta­tus quo, as Jan 6 and the result­ing endur­ing sup­port for Don­ald Trump amply demon­strates:

    ...
    Co-opt Con­gress: One rea­son past pres­i­dents may have been reluc­tant to defy the Supreme Court is that there is one body that can keep them in check — Con­gress, which can impeach and actu­al­ly remove a pres­i­dent from office, and ban him from run­ning again.

    ...

    Yarvin’s idea here is that Trump (or insert future would-be auto­crat here) should cre­ate an app — “the Trump app” — and get his sup­port­ers to sign up for it. Trump should then hand­pick can­di­dates for every con­gres­sion­al and Sen­ate seat whose sole pur­pose would be to ful­ly sup­port him and his agen­da, and use the app to get his vot­ers to vote for them in pri­maries. Trump has been pick­ing pri­ma­ry favorites and had some suc­cess in open seat con­tests, but this would be a far more large-scale, strate­gic, and sys­tem­at­ic effort.
    ...

    State and local gov­ern­ments, which will fre­quent­ly be under Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­trol, will have to be dis­solved, along with all major uni­ver­si­ties. Poof. Gone. This will pre­sum­ably all fall under the plan of cre­at­ing a sense of ‘shock and awe’ in the open­ing rounds of this coup plot:

    ...
    Cen­tral­ize police and gov­ern­ment pow­ers: Mov­ing for­ward in the state of emer­gency, Yarvin told Anton the new gov­ern­ment should then take “direct con­trol over all law enforce­ment author­i­ties,” fed­er­al­ize the Nation­al Guard, and effec­tive­ly cre­ate a nation­al police force that absorbs local bod­ies. This amounts to estab­lish­ing a cen­tral­ized police state to back the pow­er grab — as auto­crats typ­i­cal­ly do.

    Whether this is at all plau­si­ble in the US any­time soon — well, you’ll have to ask the Nation­al Guard and police offi­cers. “You have to be will­ing to say, okay, when we have this regime change, we have a peri­od of tem­po­rary uncer­tain­ty which has to be resolved in an extreme­ly peace­ful way,” he says.

    Yarvin also wants his new monarch’s absolute pow­er to be tru­ly absolute, which can’t real­ly hap­pen so long as there are so many inde­pen­dent­ly elect­ed gov­ern­ment pow­er cen­ters in (espe­cial­ly blue) states and cities. So they’ll have to be abol­ished in “almost” all cas­es. This would sure­ly be a tow­er­ing logis­ti­cal chal­lenge and cre­ate a great deal of resis­tance, to put it mild­ly.

    Shut down elite media and aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions: Now, recall that, accord­ing to Yarvin’s the­o­ries, true pow­er is held by “the Cathe­dral,” so they have to go, too. The new monarch/dictator should order them dis­solved. “You can’t con­tin­ue to have a Har­vard or a New York Times past the start of April,” he told Anton. After that, he says, peo­ple should be allowed to form new asso­ci­a­tions and insti­tu­tions if they want, but the exist­ing Cathe­dral pow­er bases must be torn down.
    ...

    So what should this aspir­ing Cae­sar do in the face of the inevitable pop­u­lar resis­tance to this plot? Orga­nize vig­i­lante mobs in sup­port for the new regime. Some­thing like a “Trump App” that allows the pres­i­dent to issue orders to his sup­port­ers is poten­tial­ly all that would be required. The mob would take care of the rest:

    ...
    Turn out your peo­ple: Final­ly, through­out this process, Yarvin wants to be able to get the new ruler’s sup­port­ers to take to the streets. “You don’t real­ly need an armed force, you need the max­i­mum capac­i­ty to sum­mon demo­c­ra­t­ic pow­er that you can find,” he told Anton. He point­ed to the “Trump app” idea again, which he said could col­lect 80 mil­lion cell num­bers and noti­fy peo­ple to tell them where to go and protest (“peace­ful­ly”) — for instance, they could go to an agency that’s defy­ing the new leader’s instruc­tions, to tell them, “sup­port the law­ful orders of this new law­ful author­i­ty.”

    ...

    “If the insti­tu­tions deny the Pres­i­dent the Con­sti­tu­tion­al posi­tion he has legal­ly won in the elec­tion, the vot­ers will have to act direct­ly,” Yarvin wrote. “Trump will call his peo­ple into the streets—not at the end of his term, when he is most pow­er­less; at the start, when he is most pow­er­ful. No one wants to see this nuclear option hap­pen. Prepar­ing for it and demon­strat­ing the capac­i­ty to exe­cute it will pre­vent it from hav­ing to hap­pen.”
    ...

    It’s worth not­ing that Trump’s “Truth Social” app just got added to the Google app store a cou­ple of weeks ago. Will Truth Social be the app-of-choice for orga­niz­ing Trumpian street mobs to ‘keep the peace’ after the bureau­crat­ic blitzkrieg gets under­way in ear­ly 2025? That remains to be seen. But at this point it’s pret­ty obvi­ous that Cur­tis Yarvin has a lot of fel­low trav­el­ers in 2022, and they’re about to take con­trol of Con­gress in two weeks.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 25, 2022, 4:43 pm
  7. Plen­ty of ques­tions are being asked about what the Repub­li­cans are actu­al­ly plan­ning on doing once they recap­ture con­trol of one of both hous­es of Con­gress after all the dust has set­tled over the loom­ing mid-term elec­tion. But as the fol­low­ing NY Times arti­cle reminds us, the a ‘Red Wave’ dur­ing the mid-terms won’t just be a sign of the suc­cess of the ‘MAGA’ move­ment at ener­gize con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ers. We should also expect to see some pret­ty big wins for Steve Ban­non’s ‘precinct strat­e­gy’. Recall how Ban­non has been push­ing to have ‘MAGA’ die-hards over­whelm the elec­tions of thou­sands of nor­mal­ly obscure local elec­tions for posi­tions like precinct offi­cers. Guess what: it’s already work­ing. That’s the sit­u­a­tion described in the fol­low­ing arti­cle about how the nor­mal­ly not-very-MAGA Repub­li­cans of wealth Green­wich, CT, found their local Repub­li­can Com­mit­tee com­plete­ly cap­tured at the precinct and school board lev­el. Green­wich is Trump/Bannon coun­try now, at least as far as the local GOP par­ty infra­struc­ture goes, with all of the ‘cul­ture war’ and ‘anti-wok­ism’ antics that come with such polit­i­cal coups.

    But it was­n’t entire­ly a local effort. The ‘precinct strat­e­gy’ for Green­wich includ­ed some nation­al help, albeit nation­al help ral­lied by local Green­wich res­i­dents. Specif­i­cal­ly, News­max host Carl Hig­bie and Project Ver­i­tas founder James O’Keefe are both Green­wich res­i­dents and both used the pow­er of their orga­ni­za­tions to dri­ve the local non-MAGA Repub­li­can offi­cials out of office. Hig­bie used his News­max week­end morn­ing new show to specif­i­cal­ly tar­get two Green­wich offi­cials, while O’Keefe pro­duced a heav­i­ly edit­ed video that seemed to show a Green­wich ele­men­tary school vice prin­ci­pal boast­ing to an unseen woman that he tried to block the hir­ing of con­ser­v­a­tives, Roman Catholics and peo­ple over 30 (the vice prin­ci­ple did­n’t actu­al­ly move those uni­lat­er­al deci­sions). When local vot­ers showed up to cau­cus­es in Jan­u­ary of this year to elect the local precinct mem­bers to a two year term is was a ‘blood bath’ for the estab­lish­ment Repub­li­cans, with 41 out of 63 precinct seats going to ‘MAGA’ insur­gents. MAGA can­di­dates basi­cal­ly took over the Green­wich GOP.

    So we have to ask: how typ­i­cal or atyp­i­cal is the sto­ry of Green­wich’s GOP in 2022? Is this a rel­a­tive­ly iso­lat­ed exam­ple of Ban­non’s ‘precinct strat­e­gy’ at work? Or is it an exam­ple of what was hap­pen­ing at the local Repub­li­can Par­ty in com­mu­ni­ties across the US? Either way, the mes­sage is clear: 2022 was the year of the non-‘Trumplican’ purge at all lev­els of the Repub­li­can Par­ty:

    The New York Times

    In Afflu­ent Green­wich, It’s Repub­li­cans vs. ‘Trum­pli­cans’

    The Con­necti­cut sub­urb was once home to George Bush and has his­tor­i­cal­ly been a mod­er­ate con­ser­v­a­tive strong­hold. But new hard-lin­ers are on the attack, gal­va­nized by the cul­ture wars.

    By Dan Bar­ry

    Report­ing from Green­wich, Conn.
    Pub­lished Nov. 6, 2022
    Updat­ed Nov. 7, 2022, 5:54 p.m. ET

    Over the sum­mer, the Green­wich Coun­try Day School sent out an invi­ta­tion for its annu­al Cider and Donuts event. To empha­size its com­mit­ment to diver­si­ty, the school not­ed that the autumn gath­er­ing was open to fam­i­lies “who iden­ti­fy as Black, Asian, Lat­inx, mul­tira­cial, indige­nous, Mid­dle East­ern, and/or peo­ple of col­or.”

    But to the alarm of the local Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee, the invi­ta­tion left out a demo­graph­ic not often thought of as mar­gin­al­ized in this afflu­ent com­mu­ni­ty.

    “You list­ed near­ly every group but white peo­ple … was that on pur­pose?” the com­mit­tee asked in an Insta­gram post. “Is that how you bring peo­ple togeth­er? Inclu­sion …?”

    Stunned, the pri­vate school’s admin­is­tra­tor gra­cious­ly said the let­ter could have more clear­ly con­veyed that all were wel­come for cider, after which the Repub­li­can com­mit­tee con­grat­u­lat­ed itself for strik­ing a blow for civ­il rights: “Glad the RTC has helped our com­mu­ni­ty become more inclu­sive.”

    The cul­ture wars were des­tined to spill some­day into the rar­efied precincts of Green­wich. But who in the name of George Bush would have expect­ed the charge to be led by a band of Trump acolytes who have tak­en con­trol of the town’s Repub­li­can com­mit­tee?

    The elec­toral worth of the party’s far-right swerve will be test­ed nation­wide in this week’s midterm elec­tions. Here in Green­wich, long a bas­tion of mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans like the elder Mr. Bush — a Green­wich Coun­try Day alum — the takeover has peo­ple ask­ing: Who are these Green­wich Repub­li­cans? And did they lock the town’s tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can lead­ers in the hold of some yacht in Green­wich Har­bor?

    The answer: They are a small, well-orga­nized group that essen­tial­ly applied the “precinct strat­e­gy” espoused by the for­mer Trump strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non, which calls for top­pling local polit­i­cal estab­lish­ments to clear the way for like-mind­ed Repub­li­can can­di­dates who will one day guide the country’s future.

    Beth MacGillivray, the chair­woman of the new Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee, which stands by its “inclu­sion” moment, said the pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee was too mod­er­ate and lack­adaisi­cal. She promised a “red wave com­ing in the midterm elec­tions.”

    But some Green­wich Repub­li­cans wor­ry that their par­ty may ven­ture so far right it will fall off the polit­i­cal cliff. For them, for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump is the unpre­dictable uncle who could turn the fam­i­ly bar­be­cue into a three-alarm fire. You don’t deny the rela­tion­ship, but you don’t vol­un­teer it either.

    This ambiva­lence was high­light­ed in 2019 — even before the committee’s right­ward lurch — when Repub­li­cans became apoplec­tic over a sud­den sprout­ing of cam­paign signs link­ing Mr. Trump with Fred Camil­lo, their can­di­date for the may­or-like posi­tion of first select­man. “Trump/Camillo,” the signs said. “Make Green­wich Great Again.”

    The signs turned out to be the satir­i­cal hand­i­work of Mark Kordick, a reg­is­tered Demo­c­rat and Green­wich police cap­tain with 31 years on the force. Accord­ing to court records, Mr. Camil­lo texted a sup­port­er: “He bet­ter pray I do not win because I would be the police com­mis­sion­er and he will be gone.”

    Mr. Camil­lo did win, and Mr. Kordick was fired. In suing the town and sev­er­al offi­cials, Mr. Kordick said that the signs were “to remind unde­cid­ed vot­ers and mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans unhap­py with Trump that Camil­lo and Trump were mem­bers of the same par­ty.”

    The law­suit, like the midterm elec­tions, is pend­ing.

    ‘Clowns’ Against ‘Out­siders’

    Green­wich, with its increas­ing­ly diverse pop­u­la­tion of 63,000, is no longer a Repub­li­can strong­hold known for fis­cal con­ser­vatism and social mod­er­a­tion. Just five years ago, the town had con­sid­er­ably more reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans than Democ­rats; today, Democ­rats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans, while unaf­fil­i­at­ed vot­ers, includ­ing more than a few dis­af­fect­ed Repub­li­cans, out­num­ber both.

    A cen­tral rea­son: the divi­sive Mr. Trump, who was trounced here by Hillary Clin­ton in the 2016 elec­tion. He was vil­i­fied by the town’s pro­gres­sives and dis­liked by most mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans, though he found sup­port among some wealthy and influ­en­tial res­i­dents.

    It was against this back­drop that the Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee chose Dan Quigley, 50, as its new chair­man in ear­ly 2020. A finan­cial ser­vices con­sul­tant, stay-at-home father and par­ty mod­er­ate, he said he ben­e­fit­ed from being a polit­i­cal neo­phyte: “No bag­gage. No ani­mos­i­ty.”

    No such luck.

    Before long, Mr. Quigley found him­self at odds with Carl Hig­bie, a local Trump stal­wart who, in 2018, had resigned his posi­tion with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion after CNN report­ed his his­to­ry of offen­sive state­ments, includ­ing: “I believe whole­heart­ed­ly, whole­heart­ed­ly, that the Black race as a whole, not total­ly, is lazier than the white race, peri­od.”

    Mr. Hig­bie, who said these past com­ments were either “flat-out stu­pid” or tak­en out of con­text, con­tact­ed Mr. Quigley about deliv­er­ing Trump signs to par­ty head­quar­ters for the 2020 cam­paign, only to have Mr. Quigley explain that he had qui­et­ly pro­hib­it­ed Trump mate­r­i­al, so as not to hurt the chances of the party’s local can­di­dates. (Mr. Trump would be crushed here by Joseph R. Biden Jr., who would win 62 per­cent of the vote.)

    This irked Mr. Hig­bie, which led to inter­nal bick­er­ing, which led to a com­pro­mise of sorts. Some Trump signs were deliv­ered to par­ty head­quar­ters, only to be con­signed to a cor­ner and cov­ered with a tarp.

    Mr. Hig­bie, 39, is now the host of a morn­ing week­end pro­gram on the right-wing broad­cast­er News­max. He said recent­ly that he had long been unhap­py with the “very estab­lish­ment Jeb Bush-style Repub­li­can Par­ty” in his home­town — “his­tor­i­cal­ly squishy,” he said — and he was still annoyed by Mr. Quigley’s sup­pres­sion of Trump signs.

    ...

    Mr. Quigley called the moment “the first alter­ca­tion I had with this group.”

    It was not the last.

    Months lat­er, some Repub­li­cans vehe­ment­ly opposed one of the Town Committee’s nom­i­nees for the Board of Edu­ca­tion: Michael-Joseph Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny, a long­time edu­ca­tor with a doc­tor­ate in edu­ca­tion lead­er­ship whose employ­ment in the New York City school sys­tem made him sus­pect. What’s more, he had donat­ed about $400 to the Biden cam­paign.

    “They saw that as unfor­giv­able,” said Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny, 47, who described him­self as “a con­ser­v­a­tive who does not believe Trump pos­sess­es the com­pe­tence to be pres­i­dent.”

    Mr. Hig­bie used his News­max plat­form to crit­i­cize Mr. Quigley and Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny as Repub­li­cans in name only. He showed their pho­tographs to his nation­al audi­ence, includ­ing one of Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny with his two young sons — their faces blurred, Mr. Hig­bie said, “because we’re civ­il here.”

    “We can’t let these clowns get away with this any­more,” Mr. Hig­bie told his view­ers.

    Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny won more votes than any oth­er school board can­di­date in last November’s local elec­tions, part of a Repub­li­can sweep that includ­ed retain­ing con­trol of the town’s pow­er­ful finance board. An unqual­i­fied suc­cess for Mr. Quigley, it would seem.

    Days lat­er, in an opin­ion piece in the local paper, Mr. Quigley urged Repub­li­cans to move on from Mr. Trump — an “ego-dri­ven polit­i­cal oppor­tunist,” he wrote — and described the party’s right wing as “angry out­siders” who base their con­clu­sions “on dodgy facts and con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.”

    Most Green­wich Repub­li­cans do not share their val­ues, he wrote with con­fi­dence.

    Oust­ing the Old Guard

    Orga­ni­za­tions like the Green­wich Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee may seem more like van­i­ty projects than vehi­cles of pow­er. But they decide who appears on a party’s endorsed bal­lot for the school board, the town coun­cil, the state leg­is­la­ture — the step­ping­stones to high­er office.

    Nor­mal­ly, the committee’s under­pub­li­cized meet­ings attract few peo­ple. But on two frigid nights in ear­ly Jan­u­ary, hun­dreds of reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans showed up for cau­cus­es to elect their com­mit­tee mem­bers for the next two years — after some stealthy coor­di­na­tion by an anti-mod­er­ate con­tin­gent that includ­ed send­ing out “Dear Neigh­bor” leaflets vow­ing to “pro­tect Green­wich from turn­ing into San Fran­cis­co.”

    The insur­gent slate over­whelmed the Repub­li­can cau­cus­es, win­ning 41 of the 63 com­mit­tee seats.

    “A com­plete, total blood bath,” acknowl­edged Mr. Quigley, who com­mend­ed the win­ners for being “well orga­nized” but also accused them of a “polit­i­cal coup.”

    “It made no sense,” he said. “We weren’t Democ­rats, we weren’t social­ists, but peo­ple who pre­vi­ous­ly were not engaged in pol­i­tics believed that nar­ra­tive.”

    Five self-described work­ing moth­ers took over the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, includ­ing Mr. Quigley’s suc­ces­sor as chair, Ms. MacGillivray, 60, who was fair­ly new to pol­i­tics. She lat­er recalled that when asked in 2020 to help Kim­ber­ly Fiorel­lo, a con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can, run for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, she ini­tial­ly balked, jok­ing, “It’s golf sea­son, for God’s sake.”

    Ms. MacGillivray, more sea­soned now, wrote in an email that despite the elec­toral suc­cess under Mr. Quigley, peo­ple were dis­sat­is­fied with his “inac­tions” and want­ed a “more dynam­ic and respon­sive” lead­er­ship. Oth­ers said that dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the “woke” direc­tion of the pub­lic schools also played a role.

    The new com­mit­tee cites the famil­iar guid­ing prin­ci­ples of lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment, parental rights and indi­vid­ual free­dom, as well as “Amer­i­ca First,” the catchall trope of Mr. Trump. Still, the abrupt change in tone has been like golf cleats clat­ter­ing on a coun­try club’s mar­bled floor.

    There was the per­ceived need to cham­pi­on white inclu­sion in most­ly white Green­wich, for exam­ple. And the time Ms. MacGillivray, in oppos­ing trans­gen­der ath­letes in scholas­tic sports, told the school board that the men on her col­lege ski team were con­sis­tent­ly stronger and faster — and “even one of the male ski rac­ers” who was “gay,” she said, “out-skied any girl or woman on the race­course every time.”

    There is also the committee’s con­nec­tion to the Green­wich Patri­ots, a hard-right group that at times seems like the id to the Town Committee’s ego. The Patri­ots con­tend that Covid-19 vac­cines are unsafe, rail against “high­ly sex­u­al­ized, porno­graph­ic and pro­fan­i­ty-laced con­tent” in schools, and serve as a con­duit for Mr. Trump, pro­mot­ing his events and shar­ing his spe­cious claim that the 2020 elec­tion was stolen.

    “In case you are won­der­ing,” the group’s dai­ly newslet­ter once advised, “elec­tion fraud was ram­pant in the 2020 elec­tion in all 50 states, includ­ing in Con­necti­cut.”

    False. More than 1.8 mil­lion Con­necti­cut res­i­dents vot­ed in the 2020 elec­tion, but the state’s Elec­tions Enforce­ment Com­mis­sion has received just 31 com­plaints alleg­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties. Three result­ed in fines, with the rest dis­missed, pend­ing or found incon­clu­sive.

    A Dif­fer­ent Kind of Plat­form

    One way that the Town Com­mit­tee sev­ered its mod­er­ate past was by declin­ing to par­tic­i­pate in the can­di­date debates spon­sored by the League of Women Vot­ers of Green­wich. The league’s local chap­ter was “clear­ly biased” and dom­i­nat­ed by Democ­rats, Ms. MacGillivray said, with a ten­den­cy to take “stri­dent, vocal posi­tions on polit­i­cal issues” like vot­ing rules.

    The chapter’s pres­i­dent, Sandy Waters, a for­mer Repub­li­can mem­ber of the Green­wich school board, dis­put­ed every point. The non­par­ti­san organization’s not-for-prof­it sta­tus allows it to sup­port pol­i­cy issues such as ear­ly vot­ing, she said, and the deci­sion by Repub­li­cans not to par­tic­i­pate hin­dered the pur­suit of an informed elec­torate.

    ...

    Ms. MacGillivray said that the sub­ject of Mr. Trump played no role in the cau­cus­es. She also won­dered why, in 2022, the media remained obsessed with the man.

    Per­haps because Mr. Trump’s ide­ol­o­gy and style influ­ence local pol­i­tics so pro­found­ly that John Bre­unig, edi­to­r­i­al page edi­tor of The Stam­ford Advo­cate and Green­wich Time, described Green­wich as a three-par­ty town: Demo­c­rat, Repub­li­can and “Trum­pli­can.”

    The Green­wich Repub­li­can ecosys­tem is such that James O’Keefe, the founder of the con­ser­v­a­tive activist group Project Ver­i­tas, is prac­ti­cal­ly a local celebri­ty.

    In March, Mr. O’Keefe pro­mot­ed his lat­est book at a gath­er­ing in a Green­wich hotel that was orga­nized with the help of Jack­ie Homan, the founder of the Green­wich Patri­ots and an unsuc­cess­ful can­di­date on the cau­cus slate that oust­ed the mod­er­ate Quigley group.

    Months lat­er, Project Ver­i­tas released hid­den-cam­era video of a Green­wich ele­men­tary school vice prin­ci­pal boast­ing to an unseen woman that he tried to block the hir­ing of con­ser­v­a­tives, Roman Catholics and peo­ple over 30. The cir­cum­stances behind the heav­i­ly edit­ed video are unclear, and the vice prin­ci­pal, since sus­pend­ed, did not make uni­lat­er­al hir­ing deci­sions.

    Still, some Green­wich Repub­li­cans assert­ed that the video reflect­ed a larg­er effort to “indoc­tri­nate stu­dents with spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal ide­olo­gies.” This would include antiracism train­ing and social emo­tion­al learn­ing, which aims to nur­ture men­tal well-being, among oth­er goals, but which some on the right believe is intend­ed to make white chil­dren feel guilty for being white.

    Such posi­tions have baf­fled more mod­er­ate Green­wich Repub­li­cans like Mike Basham, a for­mer mem­ber of the first Bush admin­is­tra­tion who recent­ly moved to South Car­oli­na after many years as a promi­nent local leader of the par­ty.

    “How can peo­ple that bright believe some of this stuff?” he asked. “Who indoc­tri­nat­ed them?”

    An Ex-President’s Shad­ow

    Mr. Trump’s name doesn’t need to appear on cam­paign signs for him to have sway in Green­wich.

    For exam­ple, there is Ms. Fiorel­lo, 47, the state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who is up for re-elec­tion. A par­tic­i­pant in the effort to replace Mr. Quigley, she has mod­er­at­ed events with doc­tors accused of spread­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion about Covid, as well as with No Left Turn in Edu­ca­tion, a group opposed to what it calls “the rad­i­cal indoc­tri­na­tion and injec­tion of polit­i­cal agen­das” in schools.

    After the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion exe­cut­ed a search war­rant at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Flori­da — col­lect­ing box­es of mate­r­i­al, includ­ing high­ly clas­si­fied doc­u­ments, that he had failed to return to the gov­ern­ment — Ms. Fiorel­lo post­ed a video express­ing con­cern over the “raid.”

    “We have to secure this repub­lic,” she said. “Active and engaged cit­i­zens is what it takes. Peace­ful protest. But cit­i­zens, we need to speak out and pro­tect what this coun­try is found­ed on. There are some things that are hap­pen­ing right now that are sim­ply unac­cept­able and tru­ly un-Amer­i­can.”

    There is also Leo­ra Levy, a wealthy Green­wich Repub­li­can who, in sup­port­ing Jeb Bush for pres­i­dent in 2016, described Mr. Trump as “vul­gar” and “ill man­nered.” When Mr. Trump won the nom­i­na­tion, she set aside her con­cerns to become an enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er, and he lat­er nom­i­nat­ed her to be ambas­sador to Chile (the nom­i­na­tion nev­er received Sen­ate approval).

    When Ms. Levy, 65, decid­ed to chal­lenge the Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent, Richard Blu­men­thal, for the Sen­ate this year, the state Repub­li­can com­mit­tee declined to endorse her. But her local Repub­li­can com­mit­tee did, as did Mr. Trump, dur­ing a phone call shared at a crowd­ed par­ty func­tion.

    Six days lat­er, Ms. Levy won the pri­ma­ry.

    Since then, she has joined her Green­wich com­pa­tri­ots in try­ing to nav­i­gate the tricky Trump ter­rain.

    “I was hon­ored to win his endorse­ment,” Ms. Levy told The CT Mir­ror, a non­prof­it news orga­ni­za­tion. “He and I agree com­plete­ly on pol­i­cy, but I’m Leo­ra Levy … Trump is not on the bal­lot. Leo­ra Levy is.”

    Last month the Levy cam­paign held a fund-rais­ing event at Mar-a-Lago that fea­tured Mr. Trump. For $25,000, you could have your pho­to­graph tak­en with the man who lost Green­wich twice.

    ———–

    “In Afflu­ent Green­wich, It’s Repub­li­cans vs. ‘Trum­pli­cans’” By Dan Bar­ry; The New York Times; 11/06/2022

    “The cul­ture wars were des­tined to spill some­day into the rar­efied precincts of Green­wich. But who in the name of George Bush would have expect­ed the charge to be led by a band of Trump acolytes who have tak­en con­trol of the town’s Repub­li­can com­mit­tee?

    the decid­ed­ly non-‘Trumpublican’ town of Green­wich had its local Repub­li­can com­mit­tee tak­en over by Trump acolytes who imme­di­ate­ly pro­ceed­ed to wage the kind of ‘cul­ture war’-style pol­i­tics not nor­mal­ly seen in Green­wich. What hap­pened? Steve Ban­non’s “precinct strat­e­gy” hap­pened. This is what it looks like:

    ...
    The elec­toral worth of the party’s far-right swerve will be test­ed nation­wide in this week’s midterm elec­tions. Here in Green­wich, long a bas­tion of mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans like the elder Mr. Bush — a Green­wich Coun­try Day alum — the takeover has peo­ple ask­ing: Who are these Green­wich Repub­li­cans? And did they lock the town’s tra­di­tion­al Repub­li­can lead­ers in the hold of some yacht in Green­wich Har­bor?

    The answer: They are a small, well-orga­nized group that essen­tial­ly applied the “precinct strat­e­gy” espoused by the for­mer Trump strate­gist Stephen K. Ban­non, which calls for top­pling local polit­i­cal estab­lish­ments to clear the way for like-mind­ed Repub­li­can can­di­dates who will one day guide the country’s future.

    Beth MacGillivray, the chair­woman of the new Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee, which stands by its “inclu­sion” moment, said the pre­vi­ous com­mit­tee was too mod­er­ate and lack­adaisi­cal. She promised a “red wave com­ing in the midterm elec­tions.”
    ...

    But as the arti­cle describes, this was­n’t sim­ply a suc­cess­ful local coup by a well-orga­nized group of Trump sup­port­ers. The effort had nation­al sup­port. Like Carl Hig­bie, a local Green­wich res­i­dent who also hap­pens to have a morn­ing week­end pro­gram on News­max. Local non-‘Trumplicans’ like Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee chair­man Dan Quigley and school­board mem­ber Michael-Joseph Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny sud­den­ly became the tar­gets of Hig­bie’s nation­al News­max show:

    ...
    Green­wich, with its increas­ing­ly diverse pop­u­la­tion of 63,000, is no longer a Repub­li­can strong­hold known for fis­cal con­ser­vatism and social mod­er­a­tion. Just five years ago, the town had con­sid­er­ably more reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans than Democ­rats; today, Democ­rats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans, while unaf­fil­i­at­ed vot­ers, includ­ing more than a few dis­af­fect­ed Repub­li­cans, out­num­ber both.

    A cen­tral rea­son: the divi­sive Mr. Trump, who was trounced here by Hillary Clin­ton in the 2016 elec­tion. He was vil­i­fied by the town’s pro­gres­sives and dis­liked by most mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans, though he found sup­port among some wealthy and influ­en­tial res­i­dents.

    It was against this back­drop that the Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee chose Dan Quigley, 50, as its new chair­man in ear­ly 2020. A finan­cial ser­vices con­sul­tant, stay-at-home father and par­ty mod­er­ate, he said he ben­e­fit­ed from being a polit­i­cal neo­phyte: “No bag­gage. No ani­mos­i­ty.”

    No such luck.

    Before long, Mr. Quigley found him­self at odds with Carl Hig­bie, a local Trump stal­wart who, in 2018, had resigned his posi­tion with the Trump admin­is­tra­tion after CNN report­ed his his­to­ry of offen­sive state­ments, includ­ing: “I believe whole­heart­ed­ly, whole­heart­ed­ly, that the Black race as a whole, not total­ly, is lazier than the white race, peri­od.”

    ...

    Mr. Hig­bie, 39, is now the host of a morn­ing week­end pro­gram on the right-wing broad­cast­er News­max. He said recent­ly that he had long been unhap­py with the “very estab­lish­ment Jeb Bush-style Repub­li­can Par­ty” in his home­town — “his­tor­i­cal­ly squishy,” he said — and he was still annoyed by Mr. Quigley’s sup­pres­sion of Trump signs.

    ...

    Mr. Quigley called the moment “the first alter­ca­tion I had with this group.”

    It was not the last.

    Months lat­er, some Repub­li­cans vehe­ment­ly opposed one of the Town Committee’s nom­i­nees for the Board of Edu­ca­tion: Michael-Joseph Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny, a long­time edu­ca­tor with a doc­tor­ate in edu­ca­tion lead­er­ship whose employ­ment in the New York City school sys­tem made him sus­pect. What’s more, he had donat­ed about $400 to the Biden cam­paign.

    “They saw that as unfor­giv­able,” said Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny, 47, who described him­self as “a con­ser­v­a­tive who does not believe Trump pos­sess­es the com­pe­tence to be pres­i­dent.”

    Mr. Hig­bie used his News­max plat­form to crit­i­cize Mr. Quigley and Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny as Repub­li­cans in name only. He showed their pho­tographs to his nation­al audi­ence, includ­ing one of Mr. Mer­can­ti-Antho­ny with his two young sons — their faces blurred, Mr. Hig­bie said, “because we’re civ­il here.”
    ...

    Then there’s anoth­er notable Green­wich res­i­dent James O’Keefe, noto­ri­ous for his fraud­u­lent­ly edit­ed hid­den-cam­era videos and ties to white suprema­cists. As we’ve sen, O’Keefe has been build­ing what amounts to a pri­vate intel­li­gence net­work with train­ing pro­vid­ed by Erik Prince. So we should­n’t be sur­prised to learn that O’Keefe released anoth­er heav­i­ly edit­ed video designed to foment parental unrest direct­ed at Green­wich’s pub­lic schools and cre­ate hys­te­ria out ‘wokeism’ in the class­room:

    ...
    The Green­wich Repub­li­can ecosys­tem is such that James O’Keefe, the founder of the con­ser­v­a­tive activist group Project Ver­i­tas, is prac­ti­cal­ly a local celebri­ty.

    In March, Mr. O’Keefe pro­mot­ed his lat­est book at a gath­er­ing in a Green­wich hotel that was orga­nized with the help of Jack­ie Homan, the founder of the Green­wich Patri­ots and an unsuc­cess­ful can­di­date on the cau­cus slate that oust­ed the mod­er­ate Quigley group.

    Months lat­er, Project Ver­i­tas released hid­den-cam­era video of a Green­wich ele­men­tary school vice prin­ci­pal boast­ing to an unseen woman that he tried to block the hir­ing of con­ser­v­a­tives, Roman Catholics and peo­ple over 30. The cir­cum­stances behind the heav­i­ly edit­ed video are unclear, and the vice prin­ci­pal, since sus­pend­ed, did not make uni­lat­er­al hir­ing deci­sions.

    Still, some Green­wich Repub­li­cans assert­ed that the video reflect­ed a larg­er effort to “indoc­tri­nate stu­dents with spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal ide­olo­gies.” This would include antiracism train­ing and social emo­tion­al learn­ing, which aims to nur­ture men­tal well-being, among oth­er goals, but which some on the right believe is intend­ed to make white chil­dren feel guilty for being white.

    Such posi­tions have baf­fled more mod­er­ate Green­wich Repub­li­cans like Mike Basham, a for­mer mem­ber of the first Bush admin­is­tra­tion who recent­ly moved to South Car­oli­na after many years as a promi­nent local leader of the par­ty.

    “How can peo­ple that bright believe some of this stuff?” he asked. “Who indoc­tri­nat­ed them?”
    ...

    But the efforts by Hig­bie and O’Keefe were just part of the over­all effort. The oth­er major part of the strat­e­gy is sim­ply over­whelm­ing the vote in these obscure local elec­tions for seats like the Green­wich Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee, which decides who appears on a party’s endorsed bal­lot for the school board, the town coun­cil, the state leg­is­la­ture. It’s Ban­non’s ‘precinct strat­e­gy’ in action:

    ...
    Orga­ni­za­tions like the Green­wich Repub­li­can Town Com­mit­tee may seem more like van­i­ty projects than vehi­cles of pow­er. But they decide who appears on a party’s endorsed bal­lot for the school board, the town coun­cil, the state leg­is­la­ture — the step­ping­stones to high­er office.

    Nor­mal­ly, the committee’s under­pub­li­cized meet­ings attract few peo­ple. But on two frigid nights in ear­ly Jan­u­ary, hun­dreds of reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans showed up for cau­cus­es to elect their com­mit­tee mem­bers for the next two years — after some stealthy coor­di­na­tion by an anti-mod­er­ate con­tin­gent that includ­ed send­ing out “Dear Neigh­bor” leaflets vow­ing to “pro­tect Green­wich from turn­ing into San Fran­cis­co.”

    The insur­gent slate over­whelmed the Repub­li­can cau­cus­es, win­ning 41 of the 63 com­mit­tee seats.

    “A com­plete, total blood bath,” acknowl­edged Mr. Quigley, who com­mend­ed the win­ners for being “well orga­nized” but also accused them of a “polit­i­cal coup.”

    “It made no sense,” he said. “We weren’t Democ­rats, we weren’t social­ists, but peo­ple who pre­vi­ous­ly were not engaged in pol­i­tics believed that nar­ra­tive.”

    Five self-described work­ing moth­ers took over the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, includ­ing Mr. Quigley’s suc­ces­sor as chair, Ms. MacGillivray, 60, who was fair­ly new to pol­i­tics. She lat­er recalled that when asked in 2020 to help Kim­ber­ly Fiorel­lo, a con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can, run for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, she ini­tial­ly balked, jok­ing, “It’s golf sea­son, for God’s sake.”
    ...

    And don’t for­get that part if the rea­son for Ban­non’s precinct-lev­el purge was to deal with Repub­li­can precinct offi­cials who were unwill­ing to go along with Repub­li­can pro­pos­als for a ‘foren­sic audit’ of the 2020 vote. Any­one in the GOP unwill­ing to go along with vir­tu­al­ly any ‘anti-vot­er fraud’ scheme has been removed. Ban­non’s army of oper­a­tives replaced them. In a year with excep­tion­al­ly tight polling between the two par­ties, sug­gest­ing we’re going to see an abun­dance of tight races were every vote counts. So if it feels like 2024 us guar­an­teed to the ulti­mate clusterf#ck of an elec­tion, don’t for­get that 2022 is sort of like the 2024 prac­tice run for Steve Ban­non’s new precinct-lev­el army.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 7, 2022, 5:16 pm

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