There are crazy people, and then there are scary crazy people with lots of money.
If you want the hair on the back of your neck to stand straight up, read Jane Mayer’s recent article in the New Yorker,“The Big Money Behind the Big Lie.”
The first paragraph describes beliefs so insane it is is difficult to believe that any but a small fringe of people who should probably be institutionalized would hold them.
It was tempting to dismiss the show unfolding inside the Dream City Church in Phoenix, Arizona, as an unintended comedy. One night in June, a few hundred people gathered for the première of “The Deep Rig,” a film financed by the multimillionaire founder of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, who is a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump. Styled as a documentary, the movie asserts that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen by supporters of Joe Biden, including by Antifa members who chatted about their sinister plot on a conference call. The evening’s program featured live appearances by Byrne and a local QAnon conspiracist, BabyQ, who claimed to be receiving messages from his future self. They were joined by the film’s director, who had previously made an exposé contending that the real perpetrators of 9/11 were space aliens.
Messages from the future. Space aliens…um..okay.
Far more frightening is Mayer’s report on the ” well-funded national movement” that has used Trump’s bogus claims of fraud to promote “alterations to the way that ballots are cast and counted in forty-nine states, eighteen of which have passed new voting laws in the past six months.”
Mayer quotes Ralph Neas– a Republican who served as executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Neas has overseen a study of the Arizona audit for the nonpartisan Century Foundation, and he told me that, though the audit is a “farce,” it may nonetheless have “extraordinary consequences.” He said, “The Maricopa County audit exposes exactly what the Big Lie is all about. If they come up with an analysis that discredits the 2020 election results in Arizona, it will be replicated in other states, furthering more chaos. That will enable new legislation. Millions of Americans could be disenfranchised, helping Donald Trump to be elected again in 2024. That’s the bottom line. Maricopa County is the prism through which to view everything. It’s not so much about 2020—it’s about 2022 and 2024. This is a coördinated national effort to distort not just what happened in 2020 but to regain the House of Representatives and the Presidency.”
The truly frightening part of Mayer’s report isn’t in the fantasies of the QAnon followers and assorted “true believers” who serve as foot soldiers in Trump’s White Nationalist cult–instead, it is the fact that these efforts are being funded by “sophisticated, well-funded national organizations whose boards of directors include some of the country’s wealthiest and highest-profile conservatives.”
Dark-money organizations, sustained by undisclosed donors, have relentlessly promoted the myth that American elections are rife with fraud, and, according to leaked records of their internal deliberations, they have drafted, supported, and in some cases taken credit for state laws that make it harder to vote.
Who are these groups?
Mayer identifies several: the Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are (unsurprisingly) prominent. Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society has renamed his Judicial Education Project the “Honest Elections Project”–it opposes mail-in ballots and basically any reforms making it easier for people to vote. Then there’s the “Election Integrity Project California,” and a group called FreedomWorks.
They have all received funding from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a private, tax-exempt organization Mayer says has become “an extraordinary force in persuading mainstream Republicans to support radical challenges to election rules—a tactic once relegated to the far right.”
With an endowment of some eight hundred and fifty million dollars, the foundation funds a network of groups that have been stoking fear about election fraud, in some cases for years.
Lest you be tempted to dismiss these efforts as fringe assaults with little chance of success, several polls have found that a third of American voters believe Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen. Perhaps the most chilling part of a chilling article was the explanation offered for receptivity to that belief:
What blue-state people don’t understand about why the Big Lie works,” he said, is that it doesn’t actually require proof of fraud. “What animates it is the belief that Biden won because votes were cast by some people in this country who others think are not ‘real’ Americans.” This anti-democratic belief has been bolstered by a constellation of established institutions on the right: “white evangelical churches, legislators, media companies, nonprofits, and even now paramilitary groups.” Podhorzer noted, “Trump won white America by eight points. He won non-urban areas by over twenty points. He is the democratically elected President of white America.”
The article provides much more detail about the ways in which wealthy reactionaries are funding the assault on democratic institutions–most dangerously, the right to vote and (as Paul Ogden frequently reminds us) the right to have those votes accurately counted.
You really need to click through and read the article in its entirety.
I did, and then I poured myself a very stiff drink.
15 thoughts on “Money Makes The Lie Go ‘Round…”
I’ve been writing about these dark networks for years, and yes, Indiana is strife with them. The Koch brothers were the primary funders and are the ones who destroyed the IRS so their network can’t be uncovered. Mike Pence has been in their back pocket since he was a radio host for the Indiana Policy Review.
Ball State is thick with this group, along with the dubious economist Mike Hicks.
Jane Mayer and others have done an excellent job exposing these people, the same ones who’ve year by year destroyed the GOP from a sane corrupt entity to a complete looney-bin of Tea Party gatherers. These are the whackos who relished Glenn Beck’s conspiracies on Fox News.
In fact, George Soros, through Open Society, founded a media company in Wisconsin to track ALEC and all the Koch network. Glenn Beck had to destroy Soros and Fox gave him the outlet until he went loco himself.
And you wonder why the GOP is full of nuts today. Unfortunately, Indiana is ground zero for these fools. Sadly, the Hoosier state is so crazy; the Koch’s are spared spending much at all to get what they want.
One last note, many of these crazy billionaires are funding “public radio,” too. 😉
Along with 150 universities in the USA and the judges coming from the Federalist Society, all found positions under Trump.
It seems that the moneyed interests have seized upon a comment that Hamilton made in the Federalist 68, namely that the “election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combinations of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.”
In other words, the members of the electoral college would not cast their votes for the candidate who got the most votes, but for the one that they, the electors, thought was the best choice.
Hamilton noted that this aspect was one of the few parts of the Constitution submitted to the states for ratification that received very little opposition.
Most people believe secure elections are the most important thing we can hope for so that people will get behind their government. We know that over 60% of European countries dont allow them. Im certainly not as sophisticated in thought as those who understand the the billionaires like the Koch brothers or the George Soros and the propaganda either side yields. But articles like this do give us insight to how some think. Im still blown away by the fact that we are so slow to change how our criminal justice system works and how we arent making the changes that all the rioting went on about. Suddenly after 45 is gone there isn’t a need for that. How many black entrepreneurs lost their businesses due to the funding of groups by billionaires.
How many of you believe “those people” actually believe any of that garbage or are the wealthy reactionaries simply investing in the current GOP profit making machine by financing the “Big Lie” hoping to reinstate their “Don” Donald Trump as mafia head? Once you dismiss the insanity of their “reasoning”; the only conclusion possible is the profits to be made by investing in their insanity.
That 1/3rd of the voters believe the lies should come as no surprise; there has been no proof provided by any of the Trump faction throughout the entire debacle of his administration and the continuing “Big Lie” and denying the ability of Congress to investigate any of the lies. The fact that his GOP cronies continue saying he won the election is enough for them; just as they said he was innocent of all charges in TWO IMPEACHMENTS was all they needed to hear. They are white and they are wealthy so it must be true.
Whose Dark Money was behind those armed “Visiting Tourists” attacking the Capitol Building and our entire Congress in action on January 6th? IF – IF- they believed Trump actually won the election, there would be no reason for the insurrection. Should we be giving kudos to Mike Pence for doing his job or asking whose Dark Money was behind forcing that cowardly person to return to his worksite and declare the winner of the 2020 presidential election?
As Nancy MacLean pointed out “Democracy in Chains”, the conservatives have been playing the long game for decades by developing winning strategies in local elections, school boards, and legislation, and training judges and lawyers in the lower courts, and they are unified in their objection to liberal ideologies, and now here we are, a democracy so broken that it no longer functions as a democracy. Now many Americans are poised to follow any charismatic leader who emerges as the savior, or, as the orange clown has said, “I alone can fix it”.
What is the antidote?
Democrats need to unify, and that seems about as likely as herding cats, and immediately pass legislation that would support fair elections, then a massive voter turn out that would refute the efforts of these autocrats in the states. Easy breezy!
Jane Mayer is the best at following the money. If her book, “Dark Money” published a few years ago didn’t raise any alarms, it’s because you weren’t listening. The super rich gather at the Koch Conference every year to plot the end of our Democratic Republic and each provides millions of dollars toward that end. The only purpose they see for government is to protect personal property and they showed during the wall debacle that they don’t care about anyone else’s personal property, only their own.
It began in earnest with the greed and power of the Koch brothers and their eager followers, who have conspired to destroy our country and the planet. I pray for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and all who are working to save Democracy and the planet.
Well ,Shiela, maybe I should not have told you about this article since you had to have a stiff drink to cope with it. Yes, the enemy is within us. The wealthy oligarchy is feeding the black wolf.
It forced me to say the serenity prayer a lot. I also turned to the Magnificat and again sang the song I wrote titled “Don’t Look at a Nasty Woman.” ( She’ll waltz right into your heart and sweep you off your feet). I am thinking I should dedicate it to Bill Clinton. I am pushing 70 and sometimes when I hear the journalists on NPR or PBS discussing these sorts of campaign finance corruption, I think to myself that I will soon no longer be on this earth. And at the rate global warming is going, no one else is going to be here either. I can already see migrations due to global warming and am certain that millions will die as a result. Many have already died. It’s a shame we did not learn from indigenous peoples around the globe who could have helped us return to a reverence for all life.
I know that we have the right of free speech. I just wonder if there’s a line between free speech, and speech that undermines our democracy. Money is free speech, right? ( I guess that means that the food people give voters in Georgia while they wait in line is also free speech). It’s too bad we can’t sue these people in court for corrupting our government and undermining our democracy. To me, they are no better than those who support corrupt dictators. They are no better than the cult leaders whose insanity often leads people to suicide, pedophilia etc. I don’t doubt that they want a white, “Christian” America. They want America to be a conservative monolith. They support the fear mongering in the GOP.
My great aunt who lived in Albuquerque lived on the south side and stated she found the white people “boring”. She thought wasting water to grow grass on your yard was just plain dumb. She preferred those of Mexican and Latino descent. She started the elementary schools there. I love diversity because it helps us innovate and makes life much more interesting.
How can we defend our democracy against such corrupt and wealthy John Birchers? And I also wonder how much dark money goes to the Democratic party? I so wish the justices of SCOTUS would wake up and smell the burned coffee poisoning our democracy.
Yes, James, Nancy MacLean’s book is a must read!
First, the 30% who believe the big lie will believe every big lie that feeds their delusions. They go to church to get a weekly dose of their fairy tales and fantasies, so what else would we expect?
Next, it’s time rational people started substituting “conservative” with “radical” or “reactionary”. There is NOTHING conservative about these unholy wretches… I’m talking about the big money “investors” in the destruction of democracy. Libertarianism has morphed in seditionism, plain and simple. Fascism’s first step is to destroy the ability of the people to vote freely. And here we are.
The Big Lie must be condemned at every turn, every time, by every one. It is metastatic cancer. I will never forget looking at the MRI of my brothers lungs with white patches everywhere and he asked his oncologist, “Can’t we just cut it out,” and his doctor said, “No, there are just too many.” That is how lies work. One by one, people buy it until “there are just too many.”
Watch the Meryl Streep movie “The Laundromat” for an educational and entertaining look at how “Money Makes The Lie Go ‘Round…” It made me question those billions in the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund and why the Indiana State Senate is decreasing our return on our own money. Just askin’
I heard something scary on the radio about the various attempts by the GOP to set-up their own methods of “approving” the vote count in the states. The plan afoot is to be able to legally over rule the actual vote count for one reason or another.
The other scary part was Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution states:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The concern expressed by people on the radio was if Biden wins Florida or Georgia in 2024 the majority GOP legislators in those states could appoint their “electors” that would vote for the GOP candidate. This maneuver may seem far fetched – Remember we are dealing with the GOP they abide by the saying: Winning isn’t Everything, It is the Only Thing.
The insatiable greed of the wealthy and powerful in this country to constantly pursue even more wealth and power is staggering!
If you have not already watched the documentary series “The Family” on Netflix, it provides a very shocking view of a secretive conservative religious organization in DC with a single goal of world power. They supported trump while he was president and I have no doubt they are also fully involved both financially and physically in the effort to claim the election was rigged. They are truly evil and frightening people.
And all this time I thought it was the Jews! Well,not completely as Soros is Jewish. I
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