Arrogant Entitled MAGA man #1: Stewart Rhodes
Oath Keeper’s founder Stewart Rhodes took the stand earlier this month in his own defense against charges of seditious conspiracy. He is a Yale law graduate. After presenting himself to the jury as a serious constitutional law scholar, he testified that in his view, everything he did on January 6 was perfectly legal. He didn’t deny that he tried to reach Trump to advise him to invoke the insurrection act. (I followed Adam Klasfield with Law and Crime live tweeting from the courtroom.)
I had a hard time wrapping my mind around his defense. “I was brainwashed” would have been a more sensible defense. Instead, he basically said: “I am a Yale law scholar who was armed and ready for Civil War, but I had no intention of disrupting the election, even though I believed the election was invalid. I was simply there to provide protection from Antifa.”
None of it makes sense. He seemed to be supremely confident all he had to do was talk and the jury would understand and agree.
Arrogant Entitled MAGA man #2: Donald Trump
Donald Trump announced himself as a 2024 candidate for president. The conventional wisdom is that he is trying to get ahead of an indictment to inoculate himself.
I don’t believe Trump actually thinks he’ll inoculate himself from prosecution by declaring himself a candidate. I believe it’s a way to keep himself at the center stage of the GOP by presenting himself as the target of left-wing radical hatred.
It will be his rallying cry. He will try to use the prosecution to present himself as a victim to keep the spotlight on himself and make it harder for someone like DeSantis to replace him. And yes, of course, he will use it for fundraising.
A meme that has always struck me wrong about Trump is that he files lawsuits as a delay strategy. It seems to me that attributing a motive like that to Trump is to assume that Trump thinks rationally. When people say, “He filed that lawsuit as a delay strategy,” they are projecting their own normalcy onto him. Example: Instead of complying with the January 6 committee subpoena, Trump filed a lawsuit against the committee. Instantly all the pundits said he was trying to get out of testifying and trying to run out the clock. The reality is that the committee is wrapping up soon, and nobody expected him to testify. At best, if forced, he’d walk in and take the Fifth, as he did in New York. The committee issued the subpoena as a ploy to force him to refuse so that he would look bad for refusing.
When Nixon resigned, a group of diehards, including Roger Stone, wanted Nixon to keep fighting. Trump is their fighter. He files these lawsuits to show he’s tough. It’s a way of posturing and flexing his muscles. He wants to show that he takes a combative stand toward anyone who crosses him.
Arrogant Entitled MAGA man #3: Elon Musk
One of Elon’s first Tweets after he took over Twitter was to amplify an ugly, homophobic conspiracy theory about the attack on Pelosi’s husband. When advertisers pulled back, he indicated that it would be a good idea to shame, boycott (and try to harm) advertisers who left Twitter:
No surprise—that failed to reassure advertisers. (Most Twitter revenue is from advertisers.) Then, right before the election, Musk endorsed Republican candidates, another move likely to drive away advertisers.
Next, Musk decided that “power to the people” meant that anyone should be allowed to pay $8 for a verification badge. So he started selling verification badges for $8 despite warnings from all sides that this was a stupid idea.
Twitter verified Jesus Christ, who marveled at the fact that he had more than 12 followers. Jesus reassured people that it didn’t hurt, and he told his father that not everyone should have to endure the kind of childhood he had:
Twitter also verified George Washington. The Twitter algorithm suggested I should follow George Washington, presumably because Twitter has curated my feed and knows I’m interested in American history and politics.
Then the mischief began. Someone impersonated Nintendo and posted obscene material. Because the blue verification badge has always indicated that the account was real, people became confused. The real Nintendo tweeted “That’s not us. This is us.”
Elon Musk responded in public that he thought selling verification for $8 was a good money-making strategy:
Musk declared himself a proponent of free speech and humor . . . until people like Kathy Griffith started impersonating him, like this:
Elon then got mad and permanently banned Kathy Griffith’s account. Evidently, humor and satire are okay unless someone is poking fun at Musk.
A person impersonating Ely Lily and posted this:
In response to comments, the impersonator tweeted this:
Eii Lilly posted this:
About this time, Elon Musk smugly tweeted that at least Twitter wasn’t boring. Then Eli Lilly’s stock tumbled and the company lost billions:
I expect all of these companies to sue Elon Musk for damages.
Satire accounts began posing as the real account denouncing the satire:
Chaos online wasn’t the only chaos. Layoffs were clumsily handled, resulting in multiple state law violations. One person, when told to lay off his staff, threw up in a trash can. The head of Twitter safety resigned.
With the safety crew and other key personnel gone, Twitter was reported to be in violation of FTC regulations. The FTC isn’t like the SEC. The FTC doesn’t hesitate to impose criminal penalties. Musk’s answer: “I put rockets into space. I’m not afraid of the FTC.”
Well, he should be afraid. We are in unchartered territory: A billionaire who appears to have something wrong with his brain purchased a company worth about $20 billion for $44 billion and appears to be doing everything possible to destroy it.
Ella Dawson, who worked for 5 years at Ted Talks, had this to say about Musk:
I call out TED directly for lionizing Musk because I worked there and I was complicit in it. I helped script the social media videos of his four (four!) TED Talks during which he made ridiculous false claims of his “inventions.” Remember his tunnels that would end traffic?
TED continued to uphold and celebrate Musk long after he started engaging in batshit public behavior, from calling people “pedophiles” to peddling transphobic jokes. TED ignored the stories of racial and gender discrimination coming out of Tesla and SpaceX.
As Elon Musk drives Twitter into a ditch, I’m struck by the sheer loss: People losing their jobs. Running a company into the ground. Putting people in jeopardy and stress. Billions lost. Think what good could be done with that money. It’s just sad. Civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill wrote about how Twitter enabled communities of civil rights activists and women (particularly Black women) to have a voice.
Basically, Elon Musk is doing to Twitter what Trump did to the US government: He’s causing the place to lose all credibility and descend into chaos.
Future of Social Media
If Twitter falls, something will take its place. This is getting long, so next week, if time permits, I’ll write about a social media model for creating a true public sphere.
And now I’m sure you need some Kitty Content
This kitty has the confidence of a white MAGA man:
One difference is that when an arrogant white billionaire fails and takes down a company, he wreaks a lot of havoc on others.
Also, arrogant white billionaires are not cute.
Originally posted here. Reposted with permission and minor edits.
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