Whenever I see TPUSA signs, I always think “Toilet Paper USA”

I’ve never been shy about saying that I despise Turning Point USA. It’s a horrible organization that makes rancid pro-capitalism arguments from a Libertarian perspective, and that tangles it all up in an anti-diversity reactionary package that Republicans all love. There’s somebody at my university who slaps up their stupid declarative posters everywhere, which means that just walking down a hallway give my superior rectus and oblique ocular muscles a painful workout.

Welp, now TPUSA has been investigated. They’re worse than I thought, which means they’re probably on par for a sleazy right wing organization.

Perhaps most troubling for an organization that holds up conservatives as the real victims of discrimination in America, Turning Point USA is also alleged to have fostered an atmosphere that is hostile to minorities. Screenshots provided to me by a source show that Crystal Clanton, who served until last summer as the group’s national field director, sent a text message to another Turning Point employee saying, “i hate black people. Like fuck them all . . . I hate blacks. End of story.”

The good news: she got fired. The bad news: it was probably for making their opinions public, not for having those opinions.

Former Turning Point employees say that the organization was a difficult workplace and rife with tension, some of it racial. Gabrielle Fequiere, a former Turning Point employee, told me that she was the only African-American hired as a field director when she worked with the group, three years ago. “In looking back, I think it was racist,” she said. “At the time, I was blaming myself, and I thought I did something wrong.” Fequiere, who now works as a model, recalled that the young black recruits that she brought into the organization suddenly found themselves disinvited from the group’s annual student summit, and that when she herself attended, she watched speakers there who “spoke badly about black women having all these babies out of wedlock. It was really offensive.”

Also, they sponsored Milo Yiannopoulos.

Speakers at Turning Point events on various college campuses have been accused of going out of their way to thumb their noses at ethnic and cultural sensitivities. The conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, for instance, whose appearance Turning Point co-hosted with the College Republicans at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, said that despite being gay, he hated “faggots,” lesbians, and feminists, who, he said, “fucking hate men.”

Also, they’re a 501(c)3 charity, forbidden from engaging in partisan political activities. Yeah, sure.

Susan Walker, who worked for Turning Point USA in Florida, in 2016, told me that the group did aid Republican political campaigns. Walker said that a list she created while working for Turning Point, with the names of hundreds of student supporters, was given without her knowledge to someone working for Marco Rubio’s Presidential campaign. “That list had, like, seven hundred kids, and I worked my ass off to get it,” she said. “I had added notes on every student I talked to, and they were all on it still.” The Rubio operative, she added, “shouldn’t have had that list. We were a charity, and he was on a political campaign.”

Also, they’re propping up conservative take-overs of student government.

ast May, The Chronicle of Higher Education published an investigative report on what it called Turning Point’s “stealth plan for political influence.” The story recounted accusations on multiple campuses that the group had funnelled money into student elections in violation of the spending caps and transparency requirements set by those schools. It detailed how student candidates backed by Turning Point had been forced to drop out of campus elections at the University of Maryland and Ohio State “after they were caught violating spending rules and attempting to hide the help they received from Turning Point.” It also quoted Kirk saying in an appearance before a conservative political group in 2015 that his group was “investing a lot of time and money and energy” in student-government elections. (In the story, Kirk denied any wrongdoing and said it was “completely ludicrous and ridiculous that there’s some sort of secret plan.”)

Student government? What can they do with student government?

Once in control of student governments, the brochure says, Turning Point expects its allied campus leaders to follow a set political agenda. Among its planks are the defunding of progressive organizations on campus, the implementation of “free speech” policies eliminating barriers to hate speech, and the blocking of all campus “boycott, divestment and sanctions” movements. Turning Point’s agenda also calls for the student leaders it empowers to use student resources to host speakers and forums promoting “American Exceptionalism and Free Market ideals on campus.”

Also, if you, like me, have been wondering where they get their money, it’s from the oil and coal industries.

In a phone interview, Kirk declined to identify the donors who have supplied his group’s eight-million-dollar-plus annual budget, noting that many prefer to remain anonymous. But Kirk has spoken and fund-raised at various closed-door energy-industry gatherings, including those of the 2017 board meeting of the National Mining Association and the 2016 annual meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. In our interview, Kirk acknowledged that some of his donors “are in the fossil-fuel space.”

I’m glad someone is turning over this rock and snapping pictures of all the vermin wriggling beneath it.

Finally! I discover who is pulling my strings and sending me those fat paychecks!

I’ve been hearing so much over the years about this guy, George Soros, who is supposedly my puppetmaster. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about Soros except that he was a really rich guy, and right-wing nutjobs seemed to think he was hiding under their bed. Now, all is explained.

OK, so he’s a billionaire philanthropist who donates to good causes. That’s about it.

Hey, why is the solstice on 21 December?

Why is Christmas/Yule/Saturnalia a few days later? Why is the New Year a week and half later? Why is the 12th month called the 10th in Latin? Why are these dates all out of line with each other and scattered around?

It’s all because “the Romans had no fucking idea how to run a calendar”.

You think you’ve heard all the ad hoc arbitrariness about how the Romans managed their calendar as you’re led step by step through it all, and then you learn about Mercedonius and you just want to throw everything on the floor and walk away.

A classic eugenics image

A fascinating bit of historical propaganda.

The message is about “The danger of increasing procreation of inferiors” and shows how the good German family on the left, with their two children, will be overwhelmed by the crude nose-picking progeny of those others. How awful! Clearly the people on the right must be culled. We know how that turned out.

We’ve outgrown all that, right? Only alt-right neo-Nazi scum are still peddling that kind of nonsense.

You know, like @WhiteHouse.

I just want to say that it is true that some people will have larger families than other people, but it doesn’t matter — all those children are still people, still have the same potential, and it is the responsibility of the nation to care for them all and give them all the opportunity to use that potential.

(via Kieran Healy)

Twitter is kind of terrible. Why don’t you give it up for the New Year?

Some song lyrics are appropriate here.

This used to be a funhouse
But now it’s full of evil clowns
It’s time to start the countdown
I’m gonna burn it down down down
I’m gonna burn it down


Twitter has been a dung heap for a long time — they’ve been notorious for ignoring harassment and treating some truly awful people with kid gloves, to the point where it was beginning to hurt their reputation and their bottom line. What to do, short of actually cleaning up the service? Announce that they’re finally going to ban some Nazis! And they did, and there was much happy PR.

The American Nazi Party’s account was suspended, as were the accounts belonging to Generation Identity, an extremist youth group, and Vanguard America, a white supremacist group that gained attention for its role in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August. (James Fields, who was charged with first-degree murder after driving a car into a crowd of counter-protesters at that rally, killing one person and injuring several others, had attended it in affiliation with Vanguard America.)

Individuals removed as a result of the new policy include the neo-Nazi and leader of the National Socialist Movement Jeff Schoep, as well as Michael Hill, founder of the militant white supremacist group League of the South.

In an extremely significant move, Twitter also suspended two accounts belonging to Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, the leader and deputy leader of a right-wing British nationalist group called Britain First. Both Fransen and Golding were arrested last week over multiple charges concerning incitement of hate in Northern Ireland. But Fransen in particular is best known in the US for posting last month several extremely violent anti-Muslim propaganda videos, which were controversially retweeted by President Donald Trump.

Feels good, doesn’t it? Quite a few triumphant news articles popped up this week. How nice for Twitter. You know this was their goal, to pick off a few obvious targets, and then sit back and graciously accept the applause.

I’m glad the American Nazi Party’s official Twitter channel has been eradicated. But you know what hasn’t been removed? American Nazis. They’re all still there. What would have been interesting is if they used all the information they have on who was following the Nazi party, and used that to scan deeper. Some of their followers would have been critics investigating them, but others would have been people cheering them on. Can we get rid of them, too?

You know who is still on Twitter? Other racist organizations, like VDare. David Duke, Ann Coulter, Mike Cernovich, Gavin McInnes. Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson. You can also search for terms like “White genocide” and “cultural marxism” or various racial slurs and find plenty of small fry who aren’t dissuaded at all.

Donald Trump is still on Twitter. I’ll believe in their commitment to principle when they ban that hatemonger, but they won’t, since their only commitment is to dollars.

Just so you know, 31 December is #TwitterEvacuationDay, when many people are making the jump to alternative micro-blogging media, or just throwing up their hands in disgust and giving it all up. It’s the only way to make Twitter wake up, I think…or at the very least, to personally escape the toxic trap.

I’m recommending that everyone make the leap to Mastodon — or, I hope, that at least some of my friends get an account there. Really, it’s just like Twitter — the interface is exactly like Tweetdeck, if you’re familiar with that. The big difference is that, instead of one giant central server for everyone, it’s distributed among many smaller servers, or instances. You see all the activity on your instance (which is necessarily going to be smaller than what goes on on Twitter), but you can also see what your friends on other instances are doing, and you can also browse the contents of federated instances…that is, servers linked to yours.

It sounds more complicated than it is. Just think of your instance as your local neighborhood, but you can easily stay in touch with everyone you want in other neighborhoods.

Go read about Mastodon if you’re thinking about it. I’ve found it a most pleasant social experience. For one thing, the admins don’t allow Nazis to frolic about, and the fact that each instance administrator has a smaller group of people to manage means harassment gets noticed and slapped down hard.

If you’re curious about what kind of instances there are out there, there’s a page that lets you search for your options. For example, you can find an instance that flat out prohibits nudity or spoilers (you can get kicked out if you violate the rules), or one that says sure, you can post your naked re-enactment of the climactic scenes from The Last Jedi. Each instance may also have a general theme — there are SciFi servers, for example, so you can move into a place where your neighbors are more likely to talk about the latest SF novels.

And then you can just join Mastodon through the instance of your choice. It’s easy.

You can find me at @pzmyers@octodon.social. Send me a hello when you’ve signed up.

How’s the weather where you are?

I thought this was fun: a site where you can compare weather statistics for multiple locations. I chose to take a look at how where I live now, Morris, Minnesota, compares to where I grew up, Seattle, Washington. It turns out I’ve had to adapt to wider temperature swings.

No surprise, but it rains more in Seattle…but we get a bit more rain in the summer here. Morris is also a heck of a lot windier than Seattle.

Go ahead, compare your weather to mine. Now we can do it with data!

The Solution

I suppose the alternative is to stop raising boys to be such selfish little shits, but that’s going to take at least another generation.

OK, Democrats, who are the progressive women you’re going to support in the next election? (No, not Hillary Clinton, who I know would be better than the current toxic TV personality in chief, but I said progressive).

Also, I know women can also be toxic. Wanna bet the Republicans are grooming aggressively paranoid and disconnected from reality NRA mouthpiece Dana Loesch for high office?