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Member since: Fri Jan 14, 2005, 11:36 PM
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The Two-Decade Red State Murder Problem


Republicans have made crime a major selling point over the past several elections. In 2020 and 2022, they ran ads accusing Democratic candidates of wanting to “defund the police”– a position held by only a handful of fringe Democratic officeholders. In October 2022, one-quarter of ads from Republican candidates and PACs focused on crime. Republican-aligned Fox News aired, on average, 141 segments on crime across weekdays in the two months leading up to the midterms. In the week after the midterm, their coverage of violent crime dropped by 50%.

In March of 2022, we released a report that found murder rates in 2020 were 40% higher in Trump-voting states than Biden-voting states. In this follow-up report, we studied homicide data going back to 2000 to see if this one-year Red State murder epidemic was an anomaly. It was not. Despite a media narrative to the contrary, a wide and widening Red State murder gap has spanned the past two decades.

In this study, we collected homicide data from 2000 through 2020 for all 50 states from the Center of Disease Control Wonder’s National Center for Health Statistics Mortality Data. Data is based on death certificates collected by state registries and provided to the National Vital Statistics System. We chose CDC data over FBI data because it’s more up to date and does not rely on voluntary reporting from counties and states. All states are required to report mortality data to the CDC; they’re only encouraged to report crime data to the FBI. The United States Department of Justice has acknowledged that CDC data is more accurate. (There were four states with several years of missing data–New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming. In these instances, we relied on FBI numbers from the Uniform Crime Statistics.)1 To allow for comparison, we calculated the state’s per capita murder rate, the number of murders per 100,000 residents, and categorized states by their presidential vote in the 2020 election, resulting in an even 25-25 state split.

We found that the murder rate in Trump-voting states has exceeded the murder rate in Biden-voting states every year this century. Cumulatively, overall murder rates since 2000 were on average 23% higher in Trump-voting states. For the past 21 years, the top 10 murder rate states have been dominated by reliably red states, namely Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Missouri. Even when we removed the county with the largest city in Trump-voting states (and kept them in for Biden-voting states), murder rates were still significantly higher in these red states.


How Republicans Fed a Misinformation Loop About the Pelosi Attack


No paywall

WASHINGTON — Within hours of the brutal attack last month on Paul Pelosi, the husband of the speaker of the House, activists and media outlets on the right began circulating groundless claims — nearly all of them sinister, and many homophobic — casting doubt on what had happened.

Some Republican officials quickly joined in, rushing to suggest that the bludgeoning of an octogenarian by a suspect obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories was something else altogether, dismissing it as an inside job, a lover’s quarrel or worse.

The misinformation came from all levels of Republican politics. A U.S. senator circulated the view that “none of us will ever know” what really happened at the Pelosis’ San Francisco home. A senior Republican congressman referred to the attacker as a “nudist hippie male prostitute,” baselessly asserting that the suspect had a personal relationship with Mr. Pelosi. Former President Donald J. Trump questioned whether the attack might have been staged.

The world’s richest man helped amplify the stories. But none of it was true.


Online Amplifiers of Anti-LGBTQ+ Extremism


Published: 01.24.2023
From: Center on Extremism
In recent months, a handful of high-follower social media accounts have driven the rapid spread of dangerous and false narratives designed to marginalize and demonize the LGBTQ+ community. Online amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism use their influence to push baseless tropes and conspiracy theories to their millions of followers. These claims are frequently picked up by major far right media personalities, expanding their reach. Online amplifiers are key players in an ecosystem of anti-LGBTQ+ hate that drives online harassment campaigns against LGBTQ+ individuals and groups, and spreads narratives which inspire real-world extremist activities, threats and even violence.

The Center on Extremism is tracking several of the biggest online amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism:

Libs of TikTok

Libs of TikTok (LoTT) is an anti-LGBTQ+ extremist social media account run by Chaya Raichik. Using false allegations of “grooming,” “child abuse” and “indoctrination,” LoTT frequently targets educators, healthcare professionals and drag performers who either identify as LGBTQ+ or work on LGBTQ+-related issues. Notable narratives promoted by LoTT include an “investigation” into Boston Children’s Hospital and a mega thread vilifying drag shows during Pride Month. Those targeted often report experiencing threats, harassment and real-world violence in the wake of the LoTT campaign against them. LoTT, with a large following of 1.7m on Twitter and significant presence on other major social media platforms, is frequently cited and further amplified by right-wing media figures and politicians, including Tucker Carlson, Glenn Greenwald, Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Tweet on Dec. 27th showing LoTT’s promotion of hateful and baseless conspiracy theories regarding the LGBTQ+ community following Raichik’s interview on Tucker Carlson. This post reached an estimated 1.2M viewers, up from LoTT’s average of 984K views per Tweet.

Following LoTT’s inflammatory “investigation” into the gender-affirming care services offered by Boston Children’s Hospital in August 2022, three bomb threats were directed against the facility with two perpetrators directly stating they were targeting services for LGBTQ+ minors.


Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You've Been Told


No paywall


Primary care clinicians like us who provide early abortions in their practices have long known that the pregnancy tissue we remove does not look like what most people expect. After Roe v. Wade was overturned last summer in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and early pregnancy termination was banned across more than a dozen states, we felt it was important to make this information public and show the images we have seen more widely.

It’s important to us to counter medical misinformation related to early pregnancy because about 80 percent of abortions in the United States occur at nine weeks or earlier. So much of the imagery that people see about abortion comes from abortion opponents who have spent decades spreading misleading fetal imagery to further their cause.

Last fall, as members of the MYA (My Abortion) Network, a clinician-led organization dedicated to educating people about abortion and expanding early abortion services into primary care settings, we launched a multimedia project to provide accurate information regarding early pregnancy tissue after abortion.

The Guardian published our first photos on Oct. 19; they went viral, appearing in media outlets and getting shared widely on social media.

Many people, even those who support abortion rights, did not believe the photos were accurate. Some insisted we had deliberately removed the embryos before taking the photos. The images weren’t consistent with those often seen in embryological textbooks, magnified on ultrasounds or used in anti-abortion propaganda; these enlarged images are not what you see with the naked eye after an abortion. A Stanford gynecologic pathologist has validated our photos, but many people could not believe the pictures were presented unaltered.


Forced birthers still won't accept this

What Are Conspiracy Theories? A Definitional Approach to Their Correlates, Consequences, and Communi




Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, social media were rife with conspiracy theories about the origins, spread, and treatment of the virus. One conspiracy theory alleged that the virus was deliberately manufactured in a Chinese laboratory to wage war on the West. Another put forward the notion that it was all a hoax. In early 2022, a conspiracy theory alleged that there were US chemical weapons laboratories in Ukraine, and another conspiracy theory advanced the argument that the war in Ukraine was started deliberately by billionaires while they prepared a new virus to let loose on the world. Conspiracy theories like these—allegations that two or more actors have coordinated in secret to achieve an outcome, and that their actions are of public interest but not widely known by the public—abound in social and political discourse. However, even though they are more visible due to advances in communication technology, they are not a new phenomenon. For instance, in earlier decades conspiracy theories have alleged that Diana, Princess of Wales, was assassinated by the British secret service; that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job; and that the Apollo moon landings were a hoax. Conspiracy theories have therefore always been with us. When we hear news about important social and political events and circumstances, we also hear conspiracy theories about them.

Despite the prominence of conspiracy theories, psychological scientists have only begun to study them in earnest in the past 20 years. The development of this research agenda is important for many reasons. To give just one example, belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories has been linked with reluctance to take the behavioral precautions and vaccines required to protect public health. Throughout their history, conspiracy theories have been associated with violence, war, terrorism, prejudice, poor health choices, and denial of climate change. In many important ways, therefore, conspiracy theories matter.

Progress in the study of this important topic has been spectacular. We have prepared this article to review this progress, highlighting what we know, and what we are yet to learn, about the psychology of conspiracy theories. Moving beyond the boundaries of a descriptive review, we argue that significantly more progress will be achieved if we pay more careful attention to determining exactly what we are studying. We argue therefore for analyzing the essential features of conspiracy theories and their implications for the causes, consequences, and transmission of conspiracy beliefs.

We begin by reviewing the empirical literature on conspiracy theories, highlighting both the abundance and the disorganization of empirical discoveries in this literature. We then take a step back to propose a reasoned definition of conspiracy theories. From this, we derive an inventory of some of their most important inherent characteristics. We then articulate a metatheoretical framework in which hypotheses about the acceptance, sharing, and impacts of conspiracy theories can be inferred from these defining characteristics. We argue that this framework synthesizes hitherto disconnected insights into the antecedents, transmission, and consequences of conspiracy belief, and it promises to promote and direct innovation in further research.


Trump Built a National Debt So Big...That It'll Weigh Down the Economy for Years


One of President Donald Trump’s lesser known but profoundly damaging legacies will be the explosive rise in the national debt that occurred on his watch. The financial burden that he’s inflicted on our government will wreak havoc for decades, saddling our kids and grandkids with debt.

The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.

The growth in the annual deficit under Trump ranks as the third-biggest increase, relative to the size of the economy, of any U.S. presidential administration, according to a calculation by a leading Washington budget maven, Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. And unlike George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw the larger relative increases in deficits, Trump did not launch two foreign conflicts or have to pay for a civil war.

Economists agree that we needed massive deficit spending during the COVID-19 crisis to ward off an economic cataclysm, but federal finances under Trump had become dire even before the pandemic. That happened even though the economy was booming and unemployment was at historically low levels. By the Trump administration’s own description, the pre-pandemic national debt level was already a “crisis” and a “grave threat.”


Celebrating Religious Freedom Day by Taking Back the Revolutionary Meaning of 'Religious Freedom'


Religious freedom has been at the center of American history since the founding. (And by the founding, I mean of the United States of America, not including the roughly century-and-a-half of colonial era.) There’s a story of religious freedom in the U.S. that isn’t widely or well understood—and is fiercely contested by the Christian Right.

Religious freedom was and is a revolutionary and liberatory concept that can disrupt entangled religious and political establishments and corrupt alliances of convenience. On Religious Freedom Day (January 16th) some will praise faith, and maybe the Founding Fathers, and some will call for interfaith understanding. Nothing wrong with all that. But if they fail to discuss the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which the day is intended to commemorate, they will have muffed the meaning and power of the moment.

There are many roots of religious freedom, but the story of religious freedom as a constitutional right in the US begins with the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which was originally drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1777 and shepherded through the Virginia legislature by James Madison in 1786. The following year, Madison served as the lead author of the Constitution, and in 1789, as the lead author of the First Amendment. Thus, the Virginia Statute is rightly understood to be the clearest statement of the intentions of the Framers in matters of the right relationship between the individual, religion, and government.

Historian John Ragosta’s thumbnail history of the bill at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello recognizes this. He quotes Madison saying that the Virginia Statute “is a true standard of Religious liberty: its principle the great barrier agst. usurpations on the rights of conscience. As long as it is respected… these will be safe.”


American Bridge Trump Opposition Research Hub


Welcome to American Bridge 21st Century's Donald Trump opposition research hub. Originally launched before the 2020 election, this website exists to help allies find the research needed to defeat Donald Trump. It's organized into multiple reports designed to help you tell the full story about Trump's failed presidency and make the case against his 2024 campaign.

Talia Lavin: The Great Right-Wing Con Job


Let us say you are thinking about the motive forces of hatred—what drives it and who is drawn to it and why.

Somewhere along the meandering path towards understanding you encounter a Trump-themed Red Bull rip-off called Winning Energy, whose shabby aura, a quintessence of the MAGA aesthetic, offers its own set of answers.

It’s a homepage you can almost smell. The vibe is a Klan meeting with a cash bar, seedy lounge-singer covers of Wagner, gilt that comes off on your fingers, a $999 deal on a late-night infomercial with the volume cranked all the way up. The can says its ingredients are liberal tears, but the label adds glucuronalactone and pantothenic acid. Very thin women in bikinis hold up the beverage in promo photos; it’s endorsed by an evangelical rapper and a graying male YouTuber whose videos include “Basic Bitches 101.” Winning Energy will help you kick “Sleepy Joe” syndrome, and it comes in sugar-free.

Or it did once, anyway. Timothy Shea, the founder of the company, was convicted in late 2022 of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and now the email list offers an error message when you try to sign up.

Of prominent hate figures—like UK professional racist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon a.k.a. Tommy Robinson, or snake-oil tycoon Alex Jones—the question is often asked: do they sincerely believe all this shit, or are they just trying to make a buck?

The answer is yes.

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