Threats, Bribes And The GOP

The shocking acquittal of Ken Paxton in Texas despite  what the Washington Post accurately called “mountains of damning evidence” should have been predictable.

Why do I say that? Because we’ve had other signs of the thuggery that has become deliberate Republican strategy. A few weeks ago, Yoel Roth highlighted that strategy in an opinion piece for the New York Times. Roth was formerly the head of “trust and safety” at Twitter–and one of those who made the call to ban Trump from Twitter. He says that nothing prepared him for what followed.

Backed by fans on social media, Mr. Trump publicly attacked me. Two years later, following his acquisition of Twitter and after I resigned my role as the company’s head of trust and safety, Elon Musk added fuel to the fire. I’ve lived with armed guards outside my home and have had to upend my family, go into hiding for months and repeatedly move.

This isn’t a story I relish revisiting. But I’ve learned that what happened to me wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t just personal vindictiveness or “cancel culture.” It was a strategy — one that affects not just targeted individuals like me, but all of us, as it is rapidly changing what we see online.

Roth’s essay detailed a campaign of online harassment that lasted months. Twitter users demanded that he be fired, jailed or killed. And it had the desired effect on those who were watching.

Private individuals — from academic researchers to employees of tech companies — are increasingly the targets of lawsuits, congressional hearings and vicious online attacks. These efforts, staged largely by the right, are having their desired effect: Universities are cutting back on efforts to quantify abusive and misleading information spreading online. Social media companies are shying away from making the kind of difficult decisions my team did when we intervened against Mr. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. Platforms had finally begun taking these risks seriously only after the 2016 election. Now, faced with the prospect of disproportionate attacks on their employees, companies seem increasingly reluctant to make controversial decisions, letting misinformation and abuse fester in order to avoid provoking public retaliation.

In Texas, those of us following the Paxton impeachment can be forgiven for expecting a conviction–after all, the charges were brought by the Republican-dominated House, the witnesses were all Republican whistleblowers who had worked for Paxton, and the evidence of his corruption was overwhelming.

There are media reports that Republican Senators received very explicit threats of violence if they voted to convict. But according to the Washington Post, those threats were also accompanied by the other part of what we now understand to be standard GOP strategy: bribery.

That the fix was in for the attorney general in the Senate probably should have been apparent back in July. That’s when a campaign finance report revealed that a pro-Paxton political action committee, known as the Defend Texas Liberty PAC, had donated $1 million and made an additional $2 million loan to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who would preside over the impeachment trial.

Yes, you read that right: The person acting as judge took $3 million from the defendant’s deep-pocketed allies. Was it any wonder that only two Republicans in the Senate, where the lieutenant governor serves as president of the chamber, voted to convict?

According to the Texas Monthly, the big money folks who funded the bribe are the same evangelical Texas billionaires who are funding the state’s voucher campaign. Make of that what you will….

The Post article traced the devolution of Texas politics from the relatively genteel, often bipartisan Republicans of the Bush era into the hard-right fanaticism that gave Lone Star voters Ted Cruz and the assortment of corrupt culture warriors who currently run the state.

And now–in the only good news to emerge from this fiasco–the Texas GOP is preparing to eat its own.

Paxton’s far-right forces are now promising all-out warfare on the Republican House members — starting with Speaker Dade Phelan — who tried to remove the attorney general from office. And with Paxton supporter Donald Trump likely to be at the top of the ticket next year, you’d have to give them excellent odds of prevailing.

The rot extends far beyond Texas. So here we are, a good facsimile of a banana republic.

MAGA Republicans are a distinct minority of Americans and they know it–so they are willing to ignore more and more “rules of the game” in order to stay in power.  If vote suppression, dark money and “flooding the zone” prove inadequate to the task, then they’ll move to threats of violence accompanied by outright bribery.

I won’t be surprised if the Texas Speaker wakes up one morning with a horse’s head in his bed…..


  1. Texas and Florida have become experiments in authoritarianism. To me, authoritarianism is about “concentrating” government to focus on a smaller group of voters/taxpayers/citizens/constituents.

    To me, democracy is about the govenment being chosen by a majority of voters/taxpayers/citizens/constituents. Subtle, but a critical difference. The Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s words are the best references to point that out. Lord Acton reminds us often why the folks who designed our government were “woke” to the European Era of Enlightenment philosophies. They had had terrible experiences with offshore authoritarianism.

    Authoritarianism has chosen these times to arrive on our shores because mass entertainment media amplifies the thoughts of minorities whom business calls ‘brands”. “Stations” compete in the advertising market for profit, and profit is very popular among owners. The Murdoch family and Trump call that the best niche.

    Why care about these states and others whose majorities love Fox News? We don’t live there. Other voters/taxpayers/citizens/constituents do.

    They feel better served by the government now. They were kind of grumpy about minorities getting served preferentially over them. “Darkies,” as we called them in the day, women, nuts who depended on law enforcement with guns to protect and serve, etc.

    Democracy serves every individual. Individuals are diverse but can be grouped according to similar features like race, genetics, gender, abilities, etc.

    Details matter.

  2. As long as media remain quiet and don’t do their jobs of exposing the rot, the 20% will prevail. Need an example? How about Germany, circa 1932? Texas Republicans are using the Nazi playbook without shame or hesitation. Why? Because power is their only agenda, not governing.

    The same applies to the national GOP. BTW, the Bush era “genteel” period was never that. Bush was a puppet for the right wingers there and barely resisted the boiling pot of corruption that eventually engulfed Texas politics beginning with the crooked Rick Perry and the monster of hate, Greg Abbott.

    Texas Republicans, being fundamentally corrupt and not very smart, are emulating what the GOP is today. They are the party of sedition, fear-mongering, corruption and fascism. Easy call.

    Oh, I suppose there will one or two bloggers who will attempt to whitewash (pun intended) this observation and thump their chests about voting for a third-party wanker, but the fact remains that voting for any Republican anywhere ensures fascism will take over our nation. Another narrative needed? Read Sinclair Lewis’ book, “It Can’t Happen Here”. It was published in 1935 and is prescient toward today’s GOP.

    Fascism is a primitive philosophy with few options for governing for the people. It is a caveman philosophy that enshrines power and control featuring a strong leader. In the case of Donald Trump being that leader, the Republican party – like the Nazis – embrace a psychopath for that job.

    Well done, history and social studies teachers.

  3. What Teresa said. And why Todd Rokita conducts his shenanigans with no regard for potential consequences, because there will be no unfavorable consequences for him. A walking, blathering waste of taxpayer dollars, out not for justice or rule of law, but pure power.

  4. “Threats, Bribes And The GOP” The nomination of Trump for the presidency was the first step in the coming coup. The two acquittals of Trump’s impeachments stepped up the action to actively overthrow this government; the GOP is openly and blatantly against democracy; they have broken every law they came up against and openly want to repeal the Constitution of the UNITED States of America. Their fight to stall, hopefully to end, the indictments brought against Trump and his activists in the attempted reversal of the 2020 presidential election and the January 6th Insurrection to actually kill his own Vice President and kidnap the Speaker of the House.

    The “rot” has merely extended to Texas and other southern states with northern states following suit. We need to trump Trump’s ass in this national game of Euchre; our only Ace is President Biden’s reelection to continue ridding as much of the “rot” as can be done in a second four-year term in the White House. People are concentrating on his physical condition, which is nowhere near that of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who could not even stand on his own two feet without help. His First Lady, Eleanor, acted as his legs; including going deep into the coal mines with the miners to view first hand their working conditions. His mental acuity was his strength, like President Biden’s is not impeded by his slow walk or his occasional stutter. He exhibits his mental strength, managing to make progress through the mire left by Trump and his associates, without threats or bribes and we are once again a voice to be heard on the global stage. His mental tenacity is his strength, his love of our democracy keeps him strong in his “fight for the soul of America”. We need to see, hear and read more about that strength than the inundation of the minority criminal element to overcome the continuing open coup attempt to overthrow our government and force Fascism and dictatorship on this nation.

    “The rot extends far beyond Texas. So here we are, a good facsimile of a banana republic.” We are rotting from within. “We have met the enemy and it is us!”

  5. Great posts above!

    This from Sheila: “So here we are, a good facsimile of a banana republic.”

    Sadly, 24-26 states suffer from banana republic-like due to the dark money billionaires behind them. As Vernon eluded, there is a continuum of corruption from right to left. Until both parties step forward to end Citizens United and clean up the corruption, the people are ruled by an oligarchy set up by the oligarchy to benefit the oligarchy. Lawyers and accountants for the oligarchy write the bills benefiting them at the expense of the people.

    And Vernon is correct about the media being too soft. Their softness is permission to allow authoritarianism to run roughshod over the people. It’s full-blown oppression.

    The only good news from Sheila’s post is hearing that these shills tend to eat their own. Hopefully, they have big appetites!! 😉

  6. This makes me wonder how much Putin’s bots have been involved in the social media threats and if Putin has somehow managed to covertly financially support the guilty dark money orgs.

    The religious extremist leaders are not Christians at all. They are power hungry theocrats willing to kill indiscriminately in their quest to obtain full power over not only this country, but the entire world. I fully believe they would sacrifice their own children for more power.

    I’ve said for over twenty years that there will be another civil war in this country, but it may end up being another revolutionary war instead. The Texas Senate war creates another perfect opportunity to push for buying more guns – because we all know that ‘more guns’ is the answer to all of our problems. (Sarcasm intended). Besides, NRA’s Wayne LaPierre lives there now.

  7. There will be no “war”. The “Blues” will circle their wagons while the country goes the way of Hungary.

  8. “In God they trust?” I think not, unless their god is St. Consumptive Corruption!
    Don’t be surprised if Paxton runs for POTUS, someday soon.

  9. Whistleblowers must have had enough evidence to bring a conviction it would seem, hopefully the evidence can be used by voters to oust him.
    Yes they are eating their own, this apparently is a pro, anti- Trump war in the Texas GOP.

  10. mafia, pure mafia. this is how trump likes it,as a wanna be mafia thug. more ego and money,than anything to do with a country. texas,self taught one upmanship. but they elected this prized goverment,whats next when the public isnt allowed to vote anymore?
    and ya wonder why i dont touch social media..

  11. Vernon’s recommend for “It Can’t Happen Here” should be taken seriously. A compelling read to consider those possibilities.

  12. So, in the Texas AG impeachment trial, I heard that what they focused on when they voted to not to impeach, was that the five staffers that went to the FBI “had no evidence” in hand. They ignored the fact that the evidence presented to the FBI was the testimony from 5 staffers that had all witnessed the same receipt of gift for political favors.

    Being outed in the right wing echo sphere is a truly an effective silencing tactic. There’s story after story of people that can’t afford to hire personal security are forced into hiding. Fascism at its best.

  13. We should stop calling the fascist captors of the Republican Party Republicans and instead call them fascists. There is no Republican Party; it has gone the way of the Whigs from which it arose in 1854. Fascist captors continue to use the name in order to keep the old Republicans of Reagan and Eisenhower voting for fascist candidates who have Rs beside their names on the ballot, a useful tactic on the facist road to absolute power and the end of balloting – and if successful our experiment in democracy.

    I join others today in blaming the media, social study teachers and curriculum designers for our failure to deep six facism among tomorrow’s adults, but let’s not forget the influence of Putin, Trump, and Rupert Murdoch in creating chaos in our electoral marketplace designed in turn to create a need for a savior to ride in on his white horse and save the day – like Herr Trump! We saw and heard with our own eyes and ears how this reincarnation of a Sir Walter Scott character who came to save the damsels in the castle on January 6 saved us from the horrors of democracy in favor of fascist authoritarianism. Though foiled, the coup attempt continues.

    If this were in George Washington’s day Trump would have long since done the floorless dance from the nearest tree a la Major Andre, and had he not escaped, Benedict Arnold. Such a strange world! We now have a candidate for president whose conduct was and is far more treasonous than that of Benedict Arnold, whose conduct predated adoption of our Constitution, which Trump uses to maintain his liberty but has openly said he wants to end, perhaps because Amendment 14-3 plainly prevents him from serving in such office.

    So other than voting for candidates of the party who believe in democracy, the rule of law and maintaining our Constitution, what are We the People going to do about this cancer on our continuation as a liberal democracy, and when?

  14. Any surprise?

    Next to the speakers chair in the halls of Congress, there sits a symbol called the Fasces!

    The Etruscans passed it on to ancient Rome, and they passed it on to the Roman political arm, ‘The house of Habsburg” in Switzerland. Coincidentally, the Swiss guard the Vatican which is the seat of the Roman Church. This migrated to Germany along with the Eagle standard. The British were a Roman colony which withstood the French the Spanish and the Dutch. They gave birth to the United States which uses the eagle and the Fasces, along with the Roman and British form of government.

    Follow the historical chain of events, and you wonder why we’re here right now? The church itself in Rome was fascist, also Germany and Habsburg empire was fascist, early Britain was absolutely fascist, and early America was fascist.

    Look no further than the papal bull of 1452! The Roman Church was connected to all of these horrid conditions throughout its incarnations to the present day. From the early days of Rome, and the Etruscans before them, and then the adoption of the Christian church which is bought and paid for by emperor Constantine, you have this link all the way through history.

    Look at all of the murdering that was done in ancient history from the Etruscans all the way through Rome, Britain, Germany, and the United States. A democracy? Never was, never will be! Affair society? All citizens equal? This entire chain, there never was any equality. There never was an advocate for the week, only the strong would survive. And that goes in a diametrically opposite direction of the tenants that Jesus Christ taught.

    And, once again, I remind you, that the church does not represent Christianity! Jesus Christ was Christianity because it was named after him. Bad things coming? I would venture to say, absolutely. If you can see the sky darkening to the east, and you could smell that storm rolling in, It would make sense to find appropriate shelter for yourself, because your life depends on it.

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