Originally published at: Pluralistic: The Right accuses their critics of the conspiracy they themselves engage in (10 Mar 2023) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
- The Right accuses their critics of the conspiracy they themselves engage in: Teneo works exactly their claims about the nonexistent Vast Leftist Conspiracy.
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The Right accuses their critics of the conspiracy they themselves engage in (permalink)
People on the right have some really weird ideas about their ideological enemies: that we're "groomers," that we're secretly on some billionaire's payroll, that we hijacked the education system to promulgate revisionist histories, that we steal elections, and, of course, that we are secretly plotting to take over America and subjugate them.
The weirdest thing about this is that it's the right that engages in revisionist race-history:
And it's the right who stole a presidency:
Election-rigging is a right-wing specialty:
It's the right who pay for fake grassroots activism:
Any time some right-wing politician comes out against queers and calls them groomers, chances are good that he's spending his free time on Instagram, sending fire emojis to naked boys:
That's especially true when we're talking about evangelical youth pastors:
It's almost like that old playground rebuttal, "I know you are but what am I?" contains a deep political truth:
Of all the absurd libels of the right, the weirdest one is that leftists are secretly funded by woke billionaires spending dark money to foment the overthrow of the USA. The idea of "leftist billionaire" is laughable on its face: how did this imaginary billionaire make their billions while paying a living wage and providing decent working conditions?
But it's easy to understand how a group of people who are so positively aslosh in dark money – people whose every political maneuver is a carefully planned scheme to separate terrified xenophobes and rubes from their money – for "alternative" covid therapies, apocalypse-ready MREs, "sound money" gold coins, and so. much. culture. war. nonsense.
What I'm trying to say is: when the right accuses the left of being driven by cabals of shadowy, crepulent billionaires and their pathetic lickspittle Renfields, it is because the right is indeed in the thrall of those crepulent billionaires.
Meet Leonard Leo, a crepulent, shadowy billionaire. Leo was last seen around these parts when he was revealed to have been the bagman behind the ultradark money group Judicial Crisis Network. After spending $27m to block confirmation for Obama's SCOTUS pick, Merrick Garland, they spent tens of millions more on campaigns to seat Kavanaugh and Gorsuch. Coney Barrett was seated thanks to a $15.9m campaign to make an unqualified, unhinged ideologue seem like a viable lifetime member of the highest court in the land:
Leo controls the Judicial Crisis Network, which worked with the Federalist Society to allow Trump to appoint a whopping 28% of all US federal judges – lifetime appointments for slavering Renfields who'll follow his political lead. Witness the firepower of a fully operational billionaire.
Leo's post-Trump side-hustle is a "Federalist Society for everything" – a secretive, lavishly funded cabal aimed at taking over campuses, corporations, news outlets with an army of "under 40s" conservative operatives. It's called Teneo, and it was a secret – until its internal memos, videos and other materials leaked to Propublica.
Propublica's Andy Kroll and Andrea Bernstein collaborated with Documented's Nick Surgey to report out the leaks, describing how Teneo when from "a dinner club with partisan overtones" to a dark-money juggernaut whose annual donations grew by leaps and bounds (2017, $750k; 2020, $2.3m; 2021, $5m):
These financial good fortunes are not the result of excited small-money donors hoping to help Teneo with its good works – it's a handful of ultra-wealthy sociopaths hoping to use a minority of willing lackeys to project their will over all of us.
Teneo's network members are a Monster's Manual of the wildest wingnuts in public life, from Josh Hawley (who wrote its founding manifesto) to JD Vance to Elise Stefanik to BenShapiro to three of Ron DeSantis's top aides. Also: federal judge who struck down Biden's mask mandate and the heads of the Republican Attorneys General Association, Republican State Leadership Committee and Turning Point USA.
The stated goal of Teneo founder Evan Baehr (a tech bro turned conservative organizer) was for Teneo members to infiltrate "the House and the Senate, as governors — one might be elected president."
In a leaked video, Baehr identifies the "woke" enemy he seeks to vanquish, describing a hypothetical meeting between "a billionaire hedge funder, a film producer, a Harvard professor and a New York Times writer." These four cook up a plan to give middle-school kids "free access to sex-change therapy paid for by the federal government." The filmmaker promises to make a documentary to support the project. The Harvard professor promises to falsify studies to reassure people that the therapies are safe. The Times reporter vows to "profile people who feel trapped in the wrong gender."
This irony is that this unhinged conspiratorialism was hatched by someone who was and is actively conspiring to take over the country with members of his secret society. After years in the wilderness, Baehr connected with Leo, who turned on the money spigots. Together, they recruited an "inner core" of FedSoc members "and recruit[ed] them for either specific roles to serve as judges or to spin up and launch critical projects."
Other shadowy billionaires piled in: Home Depot's trumpy founder Bernie Marcus, Charles Koch, and Betsy DeVos and her family. The new "Teneo 2.0" sought to "to help members find jobs, write books, meet spouses, secure start-up financing or nonprofit donors and learn about public service."
Their vision is to create "Silicon Valley of Conservatism — a powerful network of communities where the most influential young leaders, the biggest ideas, and the most leveraged resources come together to launch key projects that advance our shared belief that the conservative worldview drives human flourishing."
They funnel money to speakers from the absolute depths of the swamp: Erik "Blackwater" Prince, David Brooks, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy. New members are assured that their involvement with Teneo is "private and confidential" and the group has kept a low profile – Propublica asked Sheldon Whitehouse – a bitter critic of Leo's – about the group and got a blank stare.
Teneo's latest project is to recruit "state attorneys general, state financial officers, state legislators, journalists, media executives and best-in-class public affairs professionals" to fight ESG policies – all the froth you've encountered about the evils of ESG are the result of this secret, coordinated project.
(To be clear, ESG is bullshit, but not because it's bad for capitalism – ESG is a dumpster fire of greenwashing:)
Teneo organizes donors for members who run for local, state and federal office. Will Scharf, who's hoping to become Missouri's next attorney general, has received donations from dozens of Teneo members, giving the maximum allowable donation of $2650.
The paranoid style in American politics never went away. From the Witchfinders General of New England to Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society, there has always been a rump of Americans who are very rich and very frightened and who want to put us all in their place.
For these fevered schemers, the Jack Chick tracts that depicted secret Satanic societies seducing innocent kids through Dungeons and Dragons games were hard-hitting documentaries, and as far as they're concerned, they're fighting fire with fire.
(Image: Jack Chick, Tendeo; fair use)
Hey look at this (permalink)
- How Three Mergers Buttressed Google’s Ad Tech Monopoly, Per DOJ https://techpolicy.press/how-three-mergers-buttressed-googles-ad-tech-monopoly-per-doj/
HP outrages printer users with firmware update suddenly bricking third-party ink https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2023/03/customers-fume-as-hp-blocks-third-party-ink-from-more-of-its-printers/ (h/t Slashdot)
Silicon Valley Bank scrambles to reassure clients after 60% stock wipe-out https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/silicon-valley-bank-sell-stock-cope-with-cash-burn-2023-03-09/ (h/t Chris Brown)
This day in history (permalink)
#20yrsago Google notes from SXSW https://cruftbox.com/blog/archives/000592.html#000592
#15yrsago Rules against questioning security make us less secure https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/mar/11/politics.hitechcrime
#15yrsago Presidential candidates as Monster Manual monsters https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2008/03/politics_as_she_is_played.html
#15yrsago Canada’s DMCA: unnecessary, ill-starred and doomed https://web.archive.org/web/20080313025527/http://www.charlieangus.net/newsitem.php?id=301
#15yrsago Schneier: transparency is not security https://www.wired.com/2008/03/securitymatters-0306/
#15yrsago Maximum City: exhausting and beautiful love-note to Mumbai https://memex.craphound.com/2008/03/10/maximum-city-exhausting-and-beautiful-love-note-to-mumbai/
#15yrsago FBI interrogator: Torture doesn’t work, breeds terrorism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvsvO9kvSdo
#5yrsago Bad news: Omega 3s don’t confer any significant health benefits; good news: They’re mostly harmless https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/fullarticle/2670752
#5yrsago Wikimedia’s transparency report is a joy https://diff.wikimedia.org/2018/03/06/wikimedia-releases-eighth-transparency-report/
#5yrsago Thinking in Bets: a poker-master’s Jedi mind-trick for being less wrong https://memex.craphound.com/2018/03/10/thinking-in-bets-a-poker-masters-jedi-mind-trick-for-being-less-wrong/
Today's top sources: Eric Umansky (https://twitter.com/ericuman).
- Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. Yesterday's progress: 514 words (114348 words total)
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW
A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION
Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION
Latest podcast: Twiddler https://craphound.com/news/2023/02/27/twiddler/
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Ostrom Workshop: Beyond the Web Speaker Series, Mar 20
Antitrust and Competition Conference – Beyond the Consumer Welfare Standard (Chicago), Apr 20-21
Red Team Blues event with Tim Harford (Oxford), May 29
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Factually With Adam Conover:
Making Big Tech Better vs Making it Smaller (Brussels Antitrust Conference):
- "Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
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- Red Team Blues: "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books, April 2023
The Internet Con: A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech, Verso, September 2023
The Lost Cause: a post-Green New Deal eco-topian novel about truth and reconciliation with white nationalist militias, Tor Books, November 2023
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