An Answer to Adam Weinstein’s Question Regarding Mariia Butina

In Anne Laurie’s post earlier today, one of the embedded tweets is from Adam Weinstein. As is the case for those doubly blessed to be named Adam and from Florida, he asks an excellent question:

While Mig Greengard’s response below was good, I think there is, if not a better explanation/answer, a complementary one.

As some of you are aware, I have something of a hobby of staying current with the “armed intelligentsia”. This is a combination of two things. The first is they do really good gear reviews for outdoors equipment. The second is left over from my early, first career in academia where I did comparative research into domestic American extremists, contrasting them with those in other countries. These days I’m just largely interested in how Americans understand the history of and around the 2nd amendment and how it has changed over time. As I’ve indicated several times in comments, the best real history book on the topic is Saul Cornell’s A Well Regulated Militia. I also highly recommend his edited volume dealing with the history of modern American 2nd amendment jurisprudence. However, if you want to see what gun enthusiasts – from sport shooters to hardcore 2nd amendment absolutists – you need to read the comments. It may come as a surprise to some people reading this, but it is amazing what people will write and post as a comment when using a pseudonym. I know you’re all just shocked, shocked that such a thing could happen…

I’m not looking to pick a fight with anyone, but here are the links to the heaviest trafficked firearms website/blog on the Internet and how they covered Mariia Butina, her organization Right to Bear Arms, and gun rights/issues in Russia. Take a gander into the comments, do you notice anything? A lot of wishful thinking about how “the natural, civil, and constitutional” right to keep and bear arms might just be catching on and spreading to Russia. The truth is it isn’t. But what these comments tell provide us with an answer to Adam’s excellent question. It points us back to what Rick Perlstein wrote about several years ago in The Baffler (emphasis mine).

It would be interesting, that is, to ask Coulter about the reflex of lying that’s now sutured into the modern conservative movement’s DNA—and to get her candid assessment of why conservative leaders treat their constituents like suckers.

The history of that movement echoes with the sonorous names of long-dead Austrian economists, of indefatigable door-knocking cadres, of soaring perorations on a nation finally poised to realize its rendezvous with destiny. Search high and low, however, and there’s no mention of oilfields in the placenta. Nor anything about, say, the massive intersection between the culture of “network” or “multilevel” marketing—where ordinary folks try to get rich via pyramid schemes that leave their neighbors holding the bag—and the institutions of both evangelical Christianity and Mitt Romney’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

And yet this stuff is as important to understanding the conservative ascendancy as are the internecine organizational and ideological struggles that make up its official history—if not, indeed, more so. The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place—and the formation of a cast of mind that makes it hard for either them or us to discern where the ideological con ended and the money con began.

The conservative movement, and the political party that it is currently attached to, have so closed their informational system – from what sources are acceptable to what information is automatically deemed incorrect – that they are basically propagandizing themselves at this point. They only speak to each other, whether it is on Fox News, talk radio, social media, comments sections, what have you; they have imbued the language and terminology of American civic discourse with a special meaning that only really makes sense to themselves; and, as a result, they are susceptible to a variety of grifts. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the real reason for the 2nd amendment was to explicitly enumerate the natural and civil right for self defense – against both individuals and the state – in order to protect and safeguard all the other enumerated and unenumerated rights, you’ve also made yourself susceptible to believing that everyone else should be doing this too. And so when a somewhat attractive young woman shows up and tells you that a movement to establish the right that you think is the most important is taking root in Russia, you’ve already set yourself up to buy into the con. Because all of the resources that would quickly disabuse you of this notion are outside of the informational sources that you have been conditioned to find acceptable, all of the actual information that could be used for a reality check is going to be ignored, if it was even looked for at all. This is why Ben Carson thinks the 2nd Amendment has something to do with the Holocaust. It doesn’t. It is why the “armed intelligentsia” is convinced that Israeli teachers are armed. They’re not. The reason that conservatives in general, and the 2nd amendment absolutist community in specific, fell for this Russian active measure is that like with so much else, they’ve conned themselves.

Open thread.

114 replies
  1. 1
    debbie says:

    I don’t think those GOP and NRA politicos were thinking with their big boy brains.

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @debbie: She’s really not particularly attractive. There are far more physically attractive women involved with shooting sports, the 2nd amendment community, etc.

  3. 3
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Low hanging fruit. Dana wouldn’t bother with them.

  4. 4
    debbie says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    NPR interviewed her attorney this morning. Of course he was dissembling, but he said he didn’t think she’d be in danger back in Russia. To me, that was basically an admission she was in league with Putin.

  5. 5
    Pogonip says:

    Adam S., I thought Florida was there to keep all you richly blessed Adams from getting too snooty about being lucky enough to be Adams. 😄

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    “Complimentary” and “complementary” are not the same.


  7. 7

    Went ice skating at a pier next to the Brooklyn bridge tonight. Twas very nice.

  8. 8
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I don’t know about Russia, but I do know about the procedure for obtaining a permit to own a firearm in Ukraine. Suffice it to say it’s not something any American I know would go through.

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Good catch, I’ve fixed it.

  10. 10
    HinTN says:

    Mark Twain and Robert A Heinlein, just to name two, laid it out pretty clearly.

  11. 11
    A Ghost To Most says:

    They like being lied to. In fact, they insist on it.

    ETA How about back to back hat tricks from Ovechkin? Not bad for 33.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    lollipopguild says:

    One thing I haz learned about a lot of these folks is that they almost all feel that they have “special” sources of information that the rest of us losers do NOT have. They get special briefings at church and elsewhere that we do not get, therefore they “know’ all kind of things that the loser sheep do not know. It seems to be working out really well for them.

  14. 14
    lollipopguild says:

    @A Ghost To Most: As long as the lies that they are being told meet their needs/wants then they have no reason to not believe what they are being told. Jesus could come down from Heaven, look them in the face and tell them that they are being lied to and they would reply “No Jesus, you are wrong!’

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lollipopguild: Or, like this guy, through the fillings in their teeth.

  16. 16
    namekarB says:

    @Gin & Tonic: I sea what your doing their. . . . Homophonobia

  17. 17
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Attraction relationships are much more complex than that.

    I have a “type”. Never dated my “type”, never had relations with my “type”. Never married my “type”.

    From Butina’s comments on Erricsson, Son of Eric, pretty sure she’s a Swallow.

    Uninhibited and skilled beat’s conformal beauty norms every day.

  18. 18
    oldster says:

    As far as the Russians’ own motivations go, they think the American National Rifle Association is the best thing since the Hutus’ National Machete Association.

    The Hutus flooded their country with machetes in preparation for the genocide of the Tutsis. And the Russians are hoping that the NRA will flood the country with guns, so that the US will have its own genocidal civil war.

    From the Russian perspective, what’s not to love? They know that right-wingers will never actually shoot Russian invaders. “Red Dawn” was pure fantasy. Nope; right-wingers want to shoot black people, minorities, and liberals.

    So it’s part of Putin’s general campaign to destabilize the US, to make it not only a more divided, partisan place, but also a more violent, chaotic place. And the NRA played right into his hands.

  19. 19
    Mike in NC says:

    @Gin & Tonic: Every state, and maybe every county, in this country has their own rules about gun ownership. When I was stationed in Norfolk, VA in the 1980s all one had to do was present a military ID to purchase a firearm.

  20. 20
    Mandalay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    She’s really not particularly attractive

    Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but I had wondered whether one of the reasons Butina was selected was specifically that she was neither gorgeous nor ugly – her appearance was distinctly average. Had they sent a woman with movie star looks she would have attracted far too much attention, and men would have been much more likely to believe that something was amiss. She had that perfect level of frumpiness that enticed her clueless marks into believing that she really might want to fuck them.

    p.s. Your bold paragraph in the OP is duplicated.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: That’s weird. That’s weird.

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mandalay: All fixed.

  23. 23
    piratedan says:

    @Adam L Silverman: that may be so Adam, but how many of them are willing to sleep with the human-potato hybrids that consist of the GOP policy movers and shakers?

    when the choices offered are mashed and scalloped, no one even begins to consider if this whole chain of events come off as “twice-baked”….

  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @piratedan: Honeypot’s have specific mission sets.

  25. 25
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    I’d like to highlight something from the original post which seems to be overlooked by most of the punditry.

    The strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers points up evidence of another successful long march, of tactics designed to corral fleeceable multitudes all in one place

    That one place would be white evangelical churches. I have relatives there and they are the most gullible people imaginable, in spite of having normal or above average intelligence — they will just believe any damned thing that comes from one of the right people. These are communities of marks, self selecting and self reinforcing. A con man’s dream. And along came Trump.

    Recently someone pointed out that evangelical was a better predictor of Trump support than education level. They are his most perfect fan club because objective facts just don’t exist in that world. It is all magical thinking.

  26. 26

    Great. How the fuck do we effect a functioning democracy when the marks get to vote for the cons that fuck them over? (and the rest of us along with rhem)

  27. 27
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Man, there was an Obama MI6? It all makes so much sense now.

  28. 28
    Fair Economist says:

    @piratedan: This. Butina is not the most beautiful woman on the planet and often not even in the room, but she *is* the best-looking woman who has acted seriously interested in most of these Republicans for 20 years, and perhaps ever. Plus, no doubt, she was probably pretending to be interested in their work, and was never pushing them to do something they didn’t want to do because she wanted it.

    I will say she’s decidedly above average compared to people actually on the street. I think people saying she just looks average are having their estimation distorted by the media, which overwhelmingly shows only very attractive people.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian:

    At least 77% of white evangelicals without a college degree voted against the Democratic Senate candidates in Florida, Missouri and Tennessee, while 72% opposed defeated Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly in Indiana, the exit polls found. In the Georgia governor’s race, a breathtaking 89% of non-college white evangelicals voted for Republican Brian Kemp over African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams; 84% of those voters picked Ted Cruz over O’Rourke in Texas. Only Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia ran competitively, losing those voters by a narrow 52% to 46% margin.

    In House races, the exit polls found that exactly three-fourths of white evangelicals without a college degree voted Republican, while only about one-fifth supported Democrats. Democrats lost the men in this group by 57 percentage points and the women by a still daunting 49 points.

    The picture wasn’t appreciably better among white evangelicals with a college degree. Nationally, Republicans again won almost exactly three-fourths of them in the House races, with relatively small differences between the men and the women. Results on that group were not available in as many states, because they comprised a smaller share of the total vote, but Republicans carried about 70% of them in the Tennessee, Indiana and Missouri Senate races; in Georgia, 83% of college-educated white evangelicals voted for Kemp.

    The collapse of any meaningful distinctions among evangelicals reflects both their hardening loyalty to the GOP and the contraction of their overall numbers, says Robert P. Jones, chief executive officer of the Public Religion Research Institute, a non partisan group that studies religion, values and politics.

    But if the 2018 election results highlight the solidifying uniformity of white evangelicals — male and female, college-educated or not — the findings simultaneously illuminate pressing reasons for Republican concern about white voters who are not evangelicals, both those with and without college degrees.

    Although Democrats this year posted their best recent showing among white voters holding at least a four-year college degree, the GOP’s continuing strength among such well-educated white evangelicals obscured the full extent of the party’s decline.

    In the national House exit poll, Democrats carried fully two-thirds of college-educated whites that are not evangelical Christians. That included not only a head-turning 71% of college educated white women who are not evangelicals but also 59% of the equivalent men. The shares that said they disapproved of Trump’s performance were even higher in both groups: 74% of the women and 63% of the men.

    Democrats carried about three-fifths of these non-evangelical white-collar whites in the Florida Senate race and about two-thirds of them in Indiana, Tennessee and Missouri. Even in Texas, O’Rourke carried 61% of them, while Abrams won 55% of them in the Georgia governor’s race. Those geographically dispersed results testify to the breadth of the recoil from the Trump-era GOP among these well-educated white voters that Republicans in an earlier generation considered part of their base.

    In a process that Trump has accelerated, Republicans in this century have instead come to see whites without a college degree as the foundation of their support. But the detailed results from Edison show some cracks in that base among the working-class whites that are not evangelicals.

    In the national House exit poll, Democrats actually carried a slim 52% to 46% majority among non-college whites who are not evangelicals, though with a significant gender gap. While Democrats won the blue-collar women who are not evangelicals by 16 percentage points, Republicans won the equivalent men by 9 points. And while 56% of those non-evangelical blue-collar men said they approved of Trump’s performance in office, 58% of the equivalent women said they disapproved. Those are the so-called WNCNEW that some Democrats see as an essential target for 2020.

  30. 30
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Ironically foreshadowing whether Idris Elba will play James Bond.

  31. 31
    Pogonip says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: Mormons are overall regarded as the most gullible group. Utah is a hotbed of pyramid schemes/multi-level marketing.

  32. 32
    Vhh says:

    @Adam L Silverman: This from the guy who married an “Italian” woman whom he had just met via a suspected FSB intermediary known as the Professor…

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Vhh: Dahlink!

  34. 34
  35. 35

    @Mandalay: This is also a good guide to choosing spies. The gorgeous/ handsome ones stand out too much.

    Perhaps I’m overthinking this, but I had wondered whether one of the reasons Butina was selected was specifically that she was neither gorgeous nor ugly – her appearance was distinctly average. Had they sent a woman with movie star looks she would have attracted far too much attention

  36. 36
    Ken says:

    @Pogonip: Also “herbal and dietary supplements”, which is why Sen. Hatch protected them from FDA regulation back in the 90s.

  37. 37
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Yep.

  38. 38
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you for posting/linking that article. Could not remember where I read it.

  39. 39
    The Dangerman says:


    This from the guy who married an “Italian” woman whom he had just met via a suspected FSB intermediary known as the Professor…

    Clear thinking is not their skill; for example, I tried listening to Judge Jeanine tonight and was flabbergasted. I couldn’t possibly do it justice from memory and I didn’t take notes, but the argument was “Flynn told the truth but the FBI convinced him it was a lie and besides, it doesn’t matter, because there was no attorney and it was all a matter of Flynn trying to keep Flynn Jr. out of jail and Peter Strzok was there and …”

    …what it was was convoluted as fuck.

    I can’t believe people can watch that shit. Referring to the argument, not Judge Jeanine. OK, her too.

  40. 40
    Jay says:


    Ginger or Mary Ann?

  41. 41
    Platonailedit says:

    @Adam L Silverman: White evangelicals is euphemism for hard core racists and bigots.

  42. 42
  43. 43
    Ken says:

    @The Dangerman: Sounds a bit like duckspeak from 1984. A well-practiced duckspeaker can keep the approved phrases flowing continuously without engaging the brain – indeed, that is the ideal.

  44. 44
    Adam L Silverman says:


  45. 45
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Platonailedit: And to think I caught a hundred some odd comments of hell over my herrenvolk democracy post a couple of years back.

  46. 46
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    @Pogonip: My family members are not Mormons. I won’t identify their rather mainstream church, but yes, they are also into multi level marketing. Quack doctors with special blends of vitamins to treat serious medical conditions seem to attract them. And I suspect they are closet anti-vaxxers. So Mormons may be the most gullible, but they have competition.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Dangerman:

    “Flynn told the truth but the FBI convinced him it was a lie and besides, it doesn’t matter, because there was no attorney and it was all a matter of Flynn trying to keep Flynn Jr. out of jail and Peter Strzok was there and …”

    This has been pushed on social media, as well as places like 4Chan and Reddit, for almost a year now about Flynn. His son routinely promotes this garbage. It has been rolled into the Q conspiracy crap. Fox News, specifically during the talking head evening hours, during the morning A Blonde with Two Boobs on a Sofa show, and on Lou Dobbs show on Fox Business, and talk radio promote it too.

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: Give this thread a read. And, amazingly, the initial story was reported by Chuck Ross at the Daily Caller.

  50. 50
    oldster says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    So *that* is why I was never recruited as a spy! It’s all clear now!

  51. 51
    Another Scott says:

    @lollipopguild: A certain Russian guy wrote a famous story in one of his (excellent) doorstop books – The Grand Inquisitor – that covers closely related themes.


  52. 52
    Platonailedit says:

    I find it creepy that the so called libruls here are casually smearing this russian woman as whoring herself with zero proof.

  53. 53
    JaySinWA says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I don’t know if it came through the fillings in his teeth, but I am pretty sure it came from his handler.

  54. 54
    David Fud says:

    Are there any historical parallels between our white (apocalyptic misogynistic white supremacist) evangelicals and other other groups that one could study to see how history might “rhyme?” I personally think that time will take care of this problem, but it would be reassuring to see other historical cases of dominant groups losing their power without resorting to violence, state-legitimized or otherwise, to retain power. That is what I am worried about in terms of the overlap between the NRA and evangelicals.

  55. 55
    Platonailedit says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Guessing that two week stint wasn’t enough to shut up Georgie? Mueller should dust off George’s files.

  56. 56
    hells littlest angel says:

    I gotta say, BJ is not a place I’d expect to see so much discussion about exactly how attractive a woman is. I’ve even seen scale of 1 to 10 ratings of her looks. Please, everyone, be less stupid.

  57. 57
    hells littlest angel says:

    @Platonailedit: Yeah. Misogyny, like racism, is insidious,

  58. 58
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: I was gonna make a joke about The Americans, but now that I think of it, they’ played with that a bit

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David Fud: Bosnian Serbs, Rwandan Hutus, NAZI Germans, Imperial Japanese between WW I and WW II and during WW II, the North Koreans, the southern states in the US, the ultra-Zionist Israeli settlers, Hamas, I can go on if you like?

  60. 60
    Jeffro says:

    Speaking of gun rights…ok firearms…ok Hollywood’s version of firearms and also WW II…just got done watching 4 straight episodes of The Rat Patrol and just might have to watch one more before calling it a night.

    Oh, the childhood memories!

    Also, how did those get to be childhood memories? TRP aired from 67-69 and, well, I was born at the end of that run? The power of reruns back in the days of having only 3 channels to watch cannot be overstated…

  61. 61
    Ladyraxterinok says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: Chris Stroop sp? at his blog Notyourmissionfield has several post-election posts about how the Evangelical churches train their people to follow the leaders and never question what they say.

    He was raised in these churches and only started to realize there was a different world out there when he went to college.

    He lists several Twitter hashtags that exevangelicals use extensively, providing further insight into the culture

    His blog has lots of info about these churches and links to info that the M$M and pundits STILL persist in ignoring and not taking seriously. Often because the culture is so foreign to them and they don’t understand the language or the concepts.

  62. 62
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I have to think a degree of male chauvinism and misogyny played a role too. They probably never suspected a woman of all things could take advantage of them, being macho conservative men and all.

  63. 63
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Platonailedit: I’m sure he’s opened a new one.

  64. 64
  65. 65
    Ken says:

    @Platonailedit: It would be very, very stupid of Papadopoulos to talk about the investigation if the terms of his plea bargain forbade it. Which doesn’t rule it out, obviously.

    On the other hand, since most of what he’s saying sounds like self-serving lies, it might not fall under any restrictions.

  66. 66
    David Fud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Yes, so I get that these groups were genocidal maniacs led by folks feeding their delusions of grandeur. What I am hoping for is something to bring these folks back from their delusions. I get that it is easy to throw some snark at this question, but if possible, please point to a successful societal intervention/evolution away from magical thinking towards non-authoritarianism so that I don’t have to wonder when the race war is going to happen in the United States. You know, the part where I said

    historical cases of dominant groups losing their power without resorting to violence, state-legitimized or otherwise, to retain power.

  67. 67
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @David Fud: Uh, the Nazis? Nothing else comes to mind.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David Fud: Usually it takes lots and lots of blood. And, as is the case with the Confederacy’s ability to actually survive its battlefield destruction and win the post war peace, sometimes not even that works. Unless one is willing to completely obliterate and reduce the opponent. That did not happen with the Confederacy. In hindsight, it probably should have been done.

  69. 69
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    What I got from that is that the GOP is slowly collapsing. White evangelicals and lower-income whites aren’t enough anymore.

  70. 70
    White & Gold Purgatorian says:

    @Ladyraxterinok: Here in the south, a good chunk of the media and pundits were raised in those churches. Even after going off to college and maybe backsliding personally, they aren’t going to be able to criticize the culture that raised them, that still holds their families and that is near and dear to a vocal chunk of subscribers/viewers/advertisers. Not to mention community leaders. Not happening. Yet.

  71. 71
    Uncle Omar says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian: Do they have a garage full of aluminum siding, too? Barnum had it right, there is a sucker born every minute. And, Pierce is wrong, these rats will fck themselves. I know a guy whose entire working life has been as the first-guy-in-find-three-suckers in every multi level scam he could find. That and hustling his “friends” for quarters on the golf course. He tried to bring me in on one of his scams and I went to meet him at his house. When his wife let me in, she escorted me to the dining room where her husband was sitting at the dining room table drinking coffee and reading the Bible. When you sit down at that table, you should know who the mark is immediately.
    A friend once told me, in confidence, that his secret to selling $500.00 “family Bibles” was to drive through trailer parks in election years and look for signs for Republican candidates, write down the addresses, then go back in late November and early December–before Christmas–and knock on the door with a gigantic Bible under his arm. That scam paid for a lot of golf in odd-numbered years.

  72. 72
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: The real issue is what does slowly mean in this context.

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian:
    scientologists seem to be accepting of all the same types of scams.

    Quack doctors with special blends of vitamins to treat serious medical conditions seem to attract them.

    Note that they don’t even have to have the medical condition, the special blends are also there to ward off the conditions. And when you go to a doc you have to go to the cleared ones that are in the cult as well, because otherwise you never know what they will inject you with or what kinds of unapproved treatments that you might get. It has built an entire world around the scam, so that you don’t need to ever leave.

  74. 74
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Deconfederization, perhaps?

  75. 75
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷: More like: General Sherman from President Lincoln: New Operational Order – Utterly destroy the Confederate States of America. Nothing is to be left standing. No one other than freed men is to be left alive.

    That’s what it would have taken.

    ETA: Which, interestingly, is what the neo-Confederates to this day believe what Lincoln wanted to do. They refer to him as a genocidal, maniacal tyrant. Which is what their forebears called him before his assassination.

  76. 76
    David Fud says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I keep hoping to hear that democratic institutions will restrain and integrate these folks back into the fold, though clearly that didn’t work with the Confederacy. You are fairly clearly telling me the the only way to rid ourselves of these genocidal impulse is for a lot of good and bad people to die. Are you aware of anyone looking at the role of economics/population pressure/ecology to explain why these societies start becoming self-destructive? Clearly Syria is one case of this, but I don’t know if anyone is looking at the U.S. in the same way.

  77. 77
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David Fud: I highly recommend Gerwarth’s The Vanquished, which deals with the low intensity warfare period that bridges WW I into WW II.

    As for the other issues you’re referring to, I poke around about them as I have time. Sort of a long term side project into how to secure the peace.

  78. 78
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Bret Stephens’ latest column is a case of the white hot fantods about people not appreciating Churchll, here and in the UK. He laments that some percentage of British yoots think WC was a fictional character and Sherlock Holmes was real. It made me wonder if Bret gets that upset by people who think the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, or if Bret himself thinks Robert E Lee was a great American hero.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    @David Fud:
    What often brings back people in cults is either a major force disruption in their lives or that one thing we all achieve in the end, the inability to breathe.
    @Ladyraxterinok: Points this out with the reference she points out. The man’s life took a major turn by changing his structure, he went away to college. Less to no exposure to the cult and differing points of view. He broke the chain, even if unintentional.
    It brings to mind things I’ve heard over the years.
    First one, there really aren’t 1 or 4 or 6 billion of us, it’s all an illusion, where would all of these people fit in the world, etc.
    Second, the one true god theory. If he, and it’s almost always a he, is the ultimate life force how can there be many gods. It reenforces their one true religion. Because they see the religion or the cult as the absolute and only truth. Everything else is beneath that. So it becomes easy to disregard anything outside the religion or the cult.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Mandalay says:


    I find it creepy that the so called libruls here are casually smearing this russian woman as whoring herself with zero proof.

    I haven’t seen anyone here accusing her of whoring herself except you. The focus has been on the weakness of American men when she is dangled in front of them.

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Platonailedit: @Mandalay:

    But on Wednesday, prosecutors alleged what was in it for U.S. Person 1: “Butina, age 29, and U.S. Person 1, age 56, are believed to have cohabitated and been involved in a personal relationship during the course of Butina’s activities in the United States.”

    Embarrassingly for that person, prosecutors charged that Butina viewed their relationship as “simply a necessary aspect of her activities.” On another occasion, Butina allegedly offered a different person “sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization.” And in papers prosecutors say they obtained, Butina allegedly “expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.”

  83. 83
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hold out hope that we can out-populate them. Via mass immigration to the red states. B/c I don’t see any other peaceful way.

  84. 84
    Mandalay says:

    @hells littlest angel:

    Yeah. Misogyny, like racism, is insidious,

    As in so insidious you can’t even find it? If you want to lob bombs like that around here you really need to back it up, or STFU.

    Or just enjoy this video of Ms. Butina to help you chill a little:

  85. 85
    David Fud says:

    @Chetan Murthy: Atlanta seems to be a good example of leading Georgia that way. We may have to get a larger majority than we should need to make political changes, but Virginia seems to have gone that way. I was present in Colorado for the early stages of their transformation. I keep wondering whether the peace will hold after they lose in Georgia…

  86. 86
    Doug R says:


    I find it creepy that the so called libruls here are casually smearing this russian woman as whoring herself with zero proof.

    She pled guilty.

  87. 87
    Matt McIrvin says:


    Also, how did those get to be childhood memories? TRP aired from 67-69 and, well, I was born at the end of that run? The power of reruns back in the days of having only 3 channels to watch cannot be overstated…

    I never watched Rat Patrol, but as a kid in the 70s I was abundantly familiar with I Dream of Jeannie, Green Acres, Gilligan’s Island, the Adam West Batman, The Munsters, etc., not to mention loads of 1960s Japanese cartoons and the original Ultraman, thanks to syndicated reruns on the local independent TV stations.

    Heck, my friends and I watched the original black-and-white run of The Mickey Mouse Club as if it were new programming. I think we kind of thought it was.

  88. 88
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)  🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Two years ago, I came up with a plan for reconstruction for my Early American History college course.

    One of my main points was to seize the plantations and divide them into plots, offering them to freed slaves, as well as creating significant employment/educational programs for them.

    I also proposed a new mandatory public school system that would teach the children of the South about the true causes of the Civil War. Essentially reeducation.

    Military administration of the former states of the CSA would be renewed every 20 years by Act of Congress.

  89. 89
    Jay says:

    @Platonailedit: @hells littlest angel: @hells littlest angel:

    A requirement of being an agent or an operative, is that you use and exploit people and their weakness.

    Sociopathy lite.

    Some people don’t understand that because seduction is a visual media in pop culture.

  90. 90
    Dan B says:

    @David Fud: There is a lot of scholarly writing on non-violent transitions. Mark Kurlansky has a book on Non Violence that looks promising. The overthrow of many Soviet bloc eastern European dictatorships provide examples although the Arab Spring uprisings were inspired by these examples they were put down with ruthless force. If one segment of society is not on board with the vision the transition can go south in a heartbeat.

  91. 91
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Dan B: And as we’re now seeing in those eastern European states and societies that managed to transition non-violently, we’re now seeing backsliding and reversal. Poland and Hungary are the two premier examples. It is very rare for transitions to be non-violent. It is very rare for them not to stall out and backslide. And it is very rare for them not to be rerun again and again and again and still not get all the way through to the other side of the transition.

  92. 92
    frosty says:

    @Fair Economist: I work with a lot of “kids”. She’s average for her age and figure envelope*

    h/t Tyrone Slothrop

  93. 93
    Jr says:

    The armed intelligencia apparently were unaware of the Warsaw uprising

  94. 94
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jr: The armed intelligentsia can’t distinguish between the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and the Warsaw Uprising.
    Check out the comments. And before you ask, I didn’t actually know I was doing a guest post:

  95. 95
    frosty says:

    @Adam L Silverman: The Vanquished was a real eye-opener. WWI never really ended for much of Europe. Mostly in what evolved out of Austria-Hungary.

    There was a similar book about the end of WWII and the movement of populations (OK, ethnic cleansing) that went on for years. Mostly getting Germans out of areas they’d lived in for centuries, like Silesia. Can’t remember the title. For both of these, the story is that armistices and treaties didn’t end the bloodshed.

  96. 96
    Kayla Rudbek says:

    On the subject of MLMs being similar to right-wing Christianity, Captain Cassidy at Roll to Disbelieve has a lot of comparisons

  97. 97
    Aleta says:

    @frosty: It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

  98. 98
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @frosty: This is from the introductory portion of my keynote address at the PSYOP regimental dinner:

    There is, however, one constant between 1918 and today. As World War I was ending, or, perhaps, more accurately transforming into a series of low intensity conflicts that would simmer until reigniting into World War II, the great power competition was changing. Specifically it was adding a major new complication: a clash of ideas. These ideas were about how to better organize state and society. And they placed the ideas of liberty and liberal democracy in all of its various types in direct conflict with the totalitarian ideas of fascism on the extreme right and communism on the extreme left. And just as different forms of liberal democracy would develop, so to would different variations of fascism and communism. These clash of ideas, of how states, societies, and even the global system should best be structured, would lead to both World War II, a long Cold War, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and a number of conflicts fought by the proxies of the two post World War II superpowers. That Pyschological Operations as a military occupational specialty would grow up and mature in this war of ideas is not surprising. As fighting bad ideas with better ones is part of the core mission of Psychological Operations.

    As Psychological Operations enters its second century the world is once again faced with a war of ideas. The ideas of liberty and its expression in the different types of liberal democracy are once again facing off against totalitarian ideas from both state and non-state actors. Vladimir Putin challenges the US and its EU and NATO allies and partners with his promotion of managed democracy as a façade for the kleptocratic organized crime state he has created in Russia. Xi Xinping, recently declared as President for Life, promotes his fusion of Maoism, state controlled capitalism, and Chinese nationalism through his Belt and Road Initiative. ISIS continues to promote an extreme version of tawheed, the Islamic theological understanding of the unity of the Deity, which includes violently imposing its doctrine on believers and unbelievers alike. There is one major difference, however, between the 20th Century war of ideas that stretched from World War II through to the post Cold War period. In the 21st Century Operating Environment the theater of operations is as likely, if not more likely, to be the cyber domain than the Land, Sea, or Air domains. The cyber domain, which is everywhere and nowhere, exists within and without the continental United States (CONUS and OCUNUS) at the same time, is perfectly suited for Psychological Operations. As a result the 21st Century Operating Environment should be the new Psychological Operations century.

  99. 99
    Adam L Silverman says:

    And with that I’m to bed!

  100. 100
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dan B:

    e segment of society is not on board with the vision the transition can go south in a heartbeat.

    It was only fairly recently that I found out that the modern “Troubles” in Northern Ireland started off as a civil rights movement for Catholics inspired by the American Civil Rights Movement.

    Unfortunately, the British government decided to crack down even more violently than Southern governments did, and the Irish Republican Army was reborn as a response.

  101. 101
    Mnemosyne says:


    As multiple people have pointed out, she admitted to having sexual relationships for the purpose of advancing her mission as part of her guilty plea.

  102. 102
    wjs says:

    Without saying it in so many words, this explains why Mr. Silverman no longer writes for Sic Semper Tyrannis and Pat Lang.

    There is a really, really good book here, and it would cover the intersection between people who are nominally intelligent while functioning at a high level in the real world and the persistent myth that you gotta have MOAR GUNS if you want to be free. They have sold themselves one hell of an expensive bill of goods and we are now way more heavily armed than we need to be.

  103. 103

    @Mnemosyne: Right. And wholly beyond all that – I might have an unusual opinion here, but I don’t particularly judge her for having done this, and certainly not the same way I judge the people who slept with her. It was literally part of her job. And Putin’s Russia is not the sort of society where most people are generally in positions to say no. One of the things that came out in all the reporting about her was that she really, really wasn’t attracted to Erickson, but she doesn’t seem to have been given much of an out in the matter. It’s entirely possible that if her apparent defection is genuine, this kind of treatment from her bosses was a major contributing factor.

    In any case, she’s – well, at least was – a Russian spy. (Or operative if you want, but the point remains.) The people whom I really blame here are the Americans who sold out our country because she seduced them (or even just flirted with them). And I’m not gonna front like if I wouldn’t have felt flattered by her attention if I’d been in their shoes, but I’d like to think that I’d have stopped short of subverting the democratic processes of America or other treasonous activities.

    Mark my words: It’s almost certainly going to come out that Butina was not the only operative acting in this fashion, and that the gun lobby wasn’t the only lobby infiltrated to this extent. And because our current showrunners have a strong love of dramatic irony but are completely incapable of deploying subtlety, I’m gonna call the religious right being the next segment of the American Right to be shaken by these kinds of revelations. It almost feels like a foregone conclusion at this point.

  104. 104
    JR says:

    @Adam L Silverman: almost certainly the US would have been vulnerable to foreign invasion in that case

  105. 105
    bjacques says:

    @Adam L Silverman: one of those commentors to your post did have an intriguing proposal for gorilla warfare, but I doubt there were more than a dozen gorillas in all of Germany’s zoos. And, the country having lost its African colonies, where few gorillas could have been sourced in any event, German gorillas would have been thin on the ground indeed and any plans in that direction would have come to naught.

    And yet…and yet…could the Vietnam War have ended differently had President “Fuck” LBJ taken up Sonny Barger’s offer for the Hells Angels to volunteer as “gorilla” [sic] fighters, as documented by Hunter S. Thompson?

  106. 106
    Gvg says:

    @Platonailedit: and you should also look in the mirror. You are assuming only bad women to engage in sex to gain objectives. Women have agency. She actually was acting in the interests of her country, just not in ours, which is why we have the right to have laws saying it’s illegal here.
    Multiple people have pointed out she has confessed. There have also been multiple examples of her own words recorded or intercepted. It’s not speculation, it’s fact now.
    Betraying one’s country seems so outlandish that we all wonder why the men did it. Her beauty does not seem so amazing to explain it. I think we should remember she had a lot of money to dangle too. That would explain a lot more.

  107. 107
    Uncle Cosmo says:


    God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these diving attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.

    From “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long,” in Heinlein’s TIme Enough for Love (1973). :^D

    (Edited for formatting.)

  108. 108
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I hear Papadope is contemplating a run for Congress. He’d be better off running for the border of the nearest country without an extradition treaty with the USA.

  109. 109
    Procopius says:

    @White & Gold Purgatorian:

    These are communities of marks, self selecting and self reinforcing. A con man’s dream.

    This has been pointed out before. At least since Reagan the GOP’s mailing lists have been extremely valuable for all kinds of swindlers. This was started, I believe, by a direct sales mail operation by Richard Viguerie, who sold his mailing lists to Republican politicians and snake oil salesmen with equal pleasure.

  110. 110
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    The conservative movement, and the political party that it is currently attached to, have so closed their informational system – from what sources are acceptable to what information is automatically deemed incorrect – that they are basically propagandizing themselves at this point.

    As example, go look the threw gaming channels on you tube, the conservatives spend a lot of effert trying to police games for sekret’ liberal messages in games trying to turn them into, what is it they are scared of now, Muslim? Being a human?

  111. 111
    Jay says:


    Savage Continent
    Europe in the Aftermath of WWII

    By Keith Lowe
    Published by Picador

    ISBN 978-1-250-03356-7

  112. 112
    grubert says:


    I’m a fan of Heinlien as well, but you know who *really* laid it out? Eric Hoffer.

  113. 113

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: This certainly happens, but I wonder how effective it is. I’m active in a few gaming communities, all of which seem to have feelings ranging from disdain to outright contempt for the Gamergate crowd. The majority of people in them seem to be liberals, if not socialists or anarchists (albeit pragmatic ones who’ll still vote for Democrats and such). Maybe a few lolbertarians, but if so, they’re not vocal about it (and when have you ever met a lolbertarian who wasn’t vocal about it?).

    Obviously there are communities where this kind of stuff is effective, though. I just wonder if it’s persuading more people than it’s pushing away. I have no idea whether the communities I’m involved in are representative of gaming as a whole; I may have self-selected by disassociating myself from communities that have the sort of jerks that would’ve been persuaded by such arguments in the first place.

    In any case, despite the popular image of gamers as being reactionaries, that hasn’t been my experience. Many in these communities have voiced support not merely of liberal policies but things like feminism and LGBTQ+ rights, and they almost all think the Gamergate crowd are complete asshole nutjobs who give the rest of us a bad name.

  114. 114
    Axe Diesel Palin says:

    This resonated with me. I’ve been saving a quote on a similar insight. This actually had to do with the grifters and true believers of bitcoin, but it seems to be generally true.

    On most ideological bandwagons, there is usually a distinction between grifters and true believers. The grifters are in it for the fame and the money and will say any old bollocks to get either. The true believers accept the money and fame as an inevitable proof of their genius. And then there is a rare subset of incredibly dangerous sociopaths soaked in Dark Enlightenment nightmare libertarianism for whom grifting is true belief. For many of them, including not a few on this boat, screwing over other people for your own gain is not just a side effect of economic philosophy, or proof of concept. It is a sacred calling. To them, the presence of thieves and Ponzi scheme dealers means the new free market is thriving.

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