Ever Wonder Where MAGAs Get Those T-Shirts?

As regular readers of this blog know, I read a lot of stuff from a lot of very different sources. Mostly, I do so in order to find material to post about, but I also do so because I’m retired, curious and have time but no hobbies– and I’m not much for movies and television viewing.

I mention this because, as I’ve continued to skim available media, I have slowly come to a very concerning conclusion: the MAGA, far-Right takeover of this country is a lot farther along than most normal Americans realize. I alluded to that when I posted about the Heritage Foundation’s willingness to put its appalling Plan 2025 in writing, evidently confident that any blowback to its profoundly anti-democratic, anti-American proposals would be offset by the embrace of millions of committed culture warriors.

Once you look around, you can identify numerous examples of just how far MAGA has penetrated. Trump and McConnell accelerated its capture of the federal courts. Faux News and its proliferating clones provide alternate realities to MAGA folks offended by verifiable facts. Americans continue to retreat into selected tribes. In much of Red America, Christian Nationalism has been normalized.

Then, of course, there’s the considerable cowardice of most Republican office-holders; as Liz Cheney recently said, most of the GOP members of Congress know that Trump is a liar and a danger to the Republic, but they are terrified of his supporters–the current base of the Republican Party.

I’ve recently come across more pedestrian examples, and in a way, I find them even more chilling.

The New Republic recently published a column describing Rightwing business startups. These are businesses that deliberately gear their appeal to the MAGA “tribe.” We’ve evidently come a long way from the time that businesses avoided political identification like the plague, believing that “weighing in” on contested political issues posed  an unacceptable risk to their brands. (That belief was so BT: before Trump.) The article focused on two companies: the Black Rifle Coffee Company (intended to become the “Starbucks of the Right”) and Nine Line Apparel.

Black Rifle got seed money from one Brandon Herrera,

a gun YouTuber and DIY machine-gun manufacturer known as the “AK Guy.’” Two weeks ago, after forcing the Republican congressman representing Uvalde, Texas, Tony Gonzales, into a runoff after he dared vote for a gun safety bill, Herrera tweeted, “Texas is done with RINOS. The war starts now.”

It also turns out that a“black rifle” is not a rifle that is black. It’s an AR-15 assault rifle.

You may have seen Black Rifle’s logo–Kyle Rittenhouse was photographed in the company’s t-shirt after bailing out of jail for fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter demonstrator. Or maybe you saw it on pictures of the “Zip Tie Guy” during the January 6th insurrection–the guy who was going to use his zip ties as tools to hog-tie “treasonous” senators–who wore a baseball cap featuring a Black Rifle product.

The linked article suggests that Black Rifle is just the leading edge of “a trend of brands that make fascist aesthetics into a central part of their business strategy.”

ONE COMPANY ORGANIZED ON THE BLACK RIFLE MODEL is both more modest (it booked an estimated $36 million in annual revenue in 2023, compared to BRCC’s $300 million) and more immoderate. None of Evan Hafer’s crisis communications–style hedging for Nine Line Apparel. After visiting their website, my feed immediately began filling up with ads picturing images like the Christmas card trollingly circulated by Gen. George S. Patton’s son, also a general, after the revelation of the My Lai massacre. Beside the inscription “Peace on Earth,” it depicted a stack of Vietnamese corpses. He also passed around a picture of himself posing with a polished skull with a bullet hole above the eye. Dad bods can now sport stuff like that on a hoodie for the low, low price of $47.99, less if you join Nine Line’s “Patriots Club.”

Among Nine Line’s products: a Spartan helmet done up in Darth Vader black above the legend “I’m a patriot. Weapons are part of my religion,” a Blue Lives Matter flag identifying the stripe in the center as the “Barrier between community and lawlessness,” and t-shirts proclaiming that “Family/Faith/Friends/Flag/Firearms” are “5 Things You Don’t Mess With” and an Air Force number that boasts “Dropping warheads on foreheads since 1947.”

As the article correctly notes, these enterprises are further confirmation of the willingness of many Americans to divide the moral universe into “two incommensurate categories—us, who are blamelessly pure, and them, who are dangerous pollutants of that purity.”

Or in the inimitable words of their Lord and Savior Donald Trump, they are “vermin.”


  1. I have listened to people cry voting doesn’t matter since I turned 18, lo these many years ago. It matters. Now, then, and always. VOTE.

  2. Glorification of warriors is nothing new. American society pretends that warriors fall into two categories, the good guys and the bad guys. Violence is admired when used by the good guys and deplored when used by the bad guys. Reality, of course, is quite different but the simple, shallow view appeals to most of us. It boils down to “violence against me is bad, violence against thee, maybe not.”

  3. To see how far gun worship gets you, I just read an article about the Little Rock Airport manager being shot and killed by ATF agents. This guy was big into buying and selling guns at gun shows. Several weapons he purchased “for personal use” ended up at crime scenes. ATF investigated. They sent an undercover agent to a show where he purchased a “personal use” weapon for cash with no ID. It turns out the guy was just running an unlicensed gun business. When ATF showed up at his home with a search warrant, he fired at them and they fired back.

    He died for his beliefs and because of the guns he sold, so did several other people.

    I’ve seen Black Rifle tee shirts and wondered what the heck that was about. I guess selling matching KKK hoodies will not be a step too far.

  4. In Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter of March 22, she recounts that Trump’s “team” has reorganized the RNC’s donation system so that maximum donations go first to Trump’s presidential campaign, then to Trump’ Save America PAC, and finally to elect down-ballot candidates. That PAC pays Trump’s legal bills which it has spent $8.5M in 2024 so far on them. Thus, Trump is using the RNC to raise money that is then diverted to him. Richardson then advised that conservative lawyer George Conway suggested, and rightfully so, that “‘should stop defiling the memory of the party of Lincoln by referring to the current organization’” as the Republican Party. It bears no resemblance to that party in its current state of disarray. Witnessing the absolute dysfunction of the House under Republicans’ control confirms this reality.
    As another reader has mentioned, the ballot box is the key to changing this bizarre reality. VOTE!

  5. I used to think that I did not understand the gun mania in the country. But now I think that part of it is due to the fact that the MAGA people either have never read the Second Amendment, or that they cannot read. That Amendment is the only one that gives a reason for the “Right” that it guarantees. That right is not one of the Unalienable ones that Jefferson referred to in the Declaration of Independence. That right is National Defense. The country did not have a standing army in the late 18th Century, so Defense was ensured by the ability to nationalize the state militias. The problem was that unlike today’s National Guard units, those militias did not have armories, so the members had to keep their rifles at their homes. Today, those rifles are stored safely at the armories when they are not needed. Its pays to read things carefully, and in context.

  6. Pascal, unfortunately that clearly was the original intent of the Amendment. SCOTUS changed that in D.C. v Heller, when the “originalists” decided that sometimes they couldn’t accept the obvious intent (well regulated militia is defined in Article 1, Section 8) of the document. Hypocrisy reigned that day and it continues, on steroid, today.

  7. There is no question that Trump is truly awful, and a terrible threat. That said, using phrases like “before Trump” and describing him as the “Lord and Saviour” are problematic. These types of statements suggest that Trump is the singular critical issue, and they further imply that the issue will be resolved (i.e. everyone will return to politics–and life–as usual) once he is gone.

    I know that Sheila doesn’t feel that way, but many people do, and they propagate this sense to the masses, which is a real problem. All the time, I see it on MSNBC and CNN, in the NY Times… and everywhere.

    It’s important to make people viscerally aware that the MAGA base is the critical problem; they will find another “Lord and Saviour” once Trump is gone. There is always a second coming, and a third coming, etc. They are in it for the long haul. And, they are dangerous.

  8. At the rate this country is going, we’ll have right-wing and left-wing companies to choose from, thus the right-wing Starbucks. The MAGA warriors don’t want to support woke companies any longer. They don’t want their money going to governments controlled by the woke politicians. The divide between the Blue and Red states will only deepen. Those of us stuck in Red states will have to move once the GOP makes it unbearable. Luckily, our kids have the opportunity to make their moves at a young age. I will encourage my daughter to flee Indiana when the time comes.

    Prayers go out to the families of those massacred in a Moscow concert hall yesterday. I’ve watched the videos of the act on X, and the terrorists were ruthless. All four of the perps have been caught and survived their arrests. However, one of the perps is missing an ear, which was cut off on video by a Russian soldier.

  9. John H – Kudos! The “fear and hate” cocktail is not just about The Orange drink mixer….

  10. 1.) The Right Wing Organizing began in the 1960’s or even earlier than that possibly. The Supreme Court (as an example)- began its move to the right – related to Abe Fortas and possible Arthur Goldberg – well before 45’s nominations,
    2.) Fear of change – hatred out of this – Slavery/Racism/Immigrants etc +
    3.) Patriarchy – toxic religion – usually Christianity – of Evangelical – merged with Catholicism (e.g. Abortion/birth control) +
    4.) Wealth/Power – divide/conquer – others

    builds/built – strong coalitions – electorally – they play on both:
    1.) Systemic “oppression” of most of us – through “The Southern Strategy” (historically slavery + military bases significantly tied to the south) +
    2.) Disproportionate power – through the Senate – California’s population – no more power than Wyoming’s – two each
    and The Right has focused significantly on State Legislative power – in many states – ignoring states like California in some of this
    NRA – for example – single issue people – one doesn’t need a majority – to have strong influence
    and more lead me to also seeing that those of us who are white, and upper-middle class – often have a mindset of: “I won’t be hurt” + “It can’t be that bad” – reminder – German’s building the Nazi State
    Elections are important, however they AREN’T ENOUGH!!!!!!!

    Birth Control – may be greatly limited soon – and voting alone won’t change such issues.
    Military/police/jail/racist murders – won’t end simply by our voting.

  11. Thank you, Pascal. I have been saying all along that 2nd Amendment also has the words”…well regulated militia…” as a part (currently dropped) of the wording.

    Bringing back the correct verbage might be helpful.

  12. So, this MAGA garbage has weaseled its way out of the society’s putrid underbelly!
    Here, in Florididia, I saw another street corner sales event of Trumpish crap, just
    maybe 2 weeks ago.
    Yesterday, I commented to Pam, who both turned me onto Sheila, and with whom I
    have a buddyship, that we were Antifa, and Great when we got together to fight fascism, during WWII. She responded with a trenchant review of that time:
    “When the vast majority of us were fighting fascism with segregated armies while little black children were denied anything like the educations of whites? When Jews fleeing Nazis were denied entry into our nation and women were denied many educations in STEM careers and routinely made half the salary of men?”
    Yeah, that’s the white man’s utopia, the MAGAnuts wish to restore, in the name of their god-thing!

  13. John H > That was not the case of Hitler. When he blew his brains out the Nazis became the bad guys in Germany and there are no fascist successors to his rule to this day, and Trump’s movement toward fascism very much resembles Hitler’s Beer Hall and burning of the Reichstag as preludes to his dictatorship (see 1/6 and claims of immunity fascist dictators already have – by definition).

    However, let’s say that when Trump is gone another would be fascist takes his place. That doesn’t give us an excuse to play “Good German” today and allow Trump or any other fascist at any time to gather a bunch of gun nuts and other fruitcakes together and bow to their fear-mongering and intimidation while sitting idly by as our democracy vanishes down the drain of no return.

    If our predecessors in 1776 had had such a view we might still be an English colony. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, among others, were not “Good Germans” of their day; they instead believed that the governed should choose their governors rather than be subjected to God-appointed governors (royalty). I agree, and as I often write here and elsewhere > Our democracy is the most precious asset we hold in common, and one of the last few things worth dying for.

  14. Gerald, it’s not the same at all. In Germany, there were racist Germans, of course, but many followed out of fear. Hitler was the leader, and what he said, went. The people followed the leader out of fear.

    In this situation, it’s absolutely reversed, Trump (and Republicans in general) follows the base, not the other way around. You can see it plainly; Trump “tests” his material to see what the base will like. As a simple example, he can’t even take credit for developing the covid vaccine because the base won’t have it. Here, the leaders follow the people out of fear.

  15. From a NYT opinion today about change or “life in a blender”: “the psychological response we humans experience we our sense of stability is shattered and our future feels uncertain…our stress is greatest when uncertainty, not discomfort, is at its peak…when we sense we are not in control of a situation we give up trying to make things better – this is ‘learned hopelessness’ setting in”

    MAGA followers and us???? Why many people won’t be voting???

  16. Republicans value “saving face” more than our and their Constitutionally guaranteed human natural rights.

    While this November is an important battle in the latest war to save the country it’s not even close the the end of the war, it’s a necessary but insufficient step.

  17. When someone who served in WWll tells us what it was at that time, I think it’s wise to listen and heed. Furher Drumpf has taken his political m.o. from Hitler’s playbook. The difference is that Drumph never served in the military, and his glorification of violence and condoning it’s use to promote his agenda is recklessly anti-American. Trump and his base feed on fear and lies and have no means to control the outcome of their current trajectory.
    Trump can no way take credit for any positive act during covid. The SARS vaccine was already invented due to “white lung” and just had to be manufactured. The States were told they were on their own to obtain supplies, and when they did at great expense the supplies were intercepted by Kushner’s group and stockpiled. Nurses wore trash bags as preventative gear. It was a fiasco and more people died due to Drumpf’s incompetence and need to be the “authority”.

  18. John H – Of course it’s not the same in detail but there are enough similar rises to power between Hitler and Trump to bear comparison, as I have. Many Republican members of the House and Senate have privately admitted they detest Trump and are in fact only publicly following him out of fear of his base and/or that he will have them primaried and thus end their political careers.

    I do not agree that either Hitler or Trump ruled by anything but fear and intimidation, though perhaps clothed in democratic pretense while gathering power). Examples: Trump’s “bloodletting, vermin, the end of elections” and other such references. I also here note that he did not ask Republican voters for the right to pull the 1/6 coup, which in George Washington’s pre-Constitution day would have earned him a trip to the gallows as it did with Major Andre, the buddy of Benedict Arnold, the latter our most famous traitor to date, who escaped the noose and escaped to England. It seems strange that Trump would want to destroy the Constitution when that document literally saved his life and accounts for his freedom while awaiting trial(s) today, but I suppose we have to expect such conduct from social psychopaths concerned only in self.

  19. rightwing billionaires have spent billions on this 40+ year race to their takeover. who else has the resources to pull this insurrection of the political takeover. using religion and the ignorantly educted and kneejerk whoevers like a string of cheap whores. the game,inspired by reaganesque like talk. follow the investment,follow the money. media is a circus,and too many believe the headlines over context. a cheap sell by those who run the media thru invesments/cross that,shareholders….. too long we have blamed the ceos and the like,when in fact the word that is seldom used is the shareholders of these structures. serious money to play the game. if a fairness act was imposed again and on social media we would have a level knowlege of whos doin what. but,when the likes of the billionaire class finds lawyers who can drag out a papercut into a appeals court dragalong, we never see any change,just more money spent and time taken til it becomes a facist nation. we all have studied probably more about the past structure that became two world wars, today ist not lives but a deliberate waste of time until the money wins out. quote recently whereas the DOJ has been lacking on getting into court to charge the fuhrer in check,charged and into court. whos paying the bills? obvioulsly hes guilty,but the lawyers/courts have given him time. the working class hasnt the power in its state of poverty to push this naritive, it must be the money,and how they have waited 40+ years to see its fruit. if you think they will just jump for joy if the fuhrer is reelected,your wrong,that 2025 is a insurrection,and the billionaires/shareholders wrote it.

  20. I recall during WW II hearing a story from Europe per the following. Hitler’s Youth Corps made Nazis out of German youth and set them up for military service upon maturity. These kids were also told to report anything suspicious on the home front. One such Youth Corps member told his leader that his father listened to BBC short wave radio at night. That night the gestapo came to his house, beat his father bloody in front of his terrified family, took him away and he was never heard from again.

    So this is what Trump sees in our future, i.e., the destruction of our democracy in favor of fascist authoritarianism, immunity to charges of murder of political opponents” and any other crimes by presidents (and guess who gets the right to define “political opponents?”),

    I hope not, but hope doesn’t get it. No system of government is perfect, but in my opinion small d philosophy and choice of governors by the consent of the governed represent the best means of refereeing the interests of the citizen and those of the majority, which leave no room for whim, caprice, or power-mad dictators the likes of a Trump or a Hitler.

  21. @ Teresa
    I’m glad somebody remembers. I hope your mom and others like her tell everyone they know.

  22. Teresa, So relieved we still have Americans who can remind us of how bad our lives can get if we don’t stand up and protect our rights and each other from out-of-control Authoritarianism. Your mother definitely has a cautionary tale grounded in history to be heeded in the present day.

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