You ain’t seen nothin’ yet: here come the groypers

The Right just gets worse and worse. I thought it was intolerable when Reagan was their idol, even more ludicrous with the cult of ignorance around George W Bush, and then dived off the deep end with Trump…but Trump is just a shallow, doomed figurehead. We need to fear what’s coming next: Nick Fuentes, or someone like him.

What they’re going to do is tap in the zealotry of an increasing radical Christianity.

Christian nationalism has returned to the core of the far-right after a tour through the wilderness of Alt Right syncretism involving the usual fascist amalgam of Odinism, Satanism, nature worship, British Israelism, Ariosophy, and so forth. In some ways, members of the white nationalist movement predicted this turn following the terror of Charlottesville, investing in efforts to infiltrate Christian conservative groups rather than focusing as much on exploiting the traditional tensions between radical subcultural milieus and liberal democracy.

Today, these white nationalists within the America First (AF) movement, led by Nick Fuentes and his supporters, are effectively infiltrating religious movements associated with the New Apostolic Reformation, the Orthodox church, and the Mormon church through proxies and supporters. Supporters have attended political events associated with the Church, started far-right church groups, and engaged with religious media in order to pull Christians further to the far right.

It’s a formless chaos right now. Reading through that summary, you get the impression that they’re morphing at a frenetic rate, they’re just sucking in bits and pieces of far right ideology and splicing together into nightmare creations, most of which are doomed to failure. Every little splinter group out there is a mutational experiment, struggling to find a survival strategy, and the most successful exploits seem to involve glomming onto the most sensationalistically evil ideas, because that’s what makes good clickbait, will maybe start trending, will catch on with the algorithm, and will skirt the edges of bannable content. So far, Christianity + racism + debatemebro culture seems to be a winning recipe, with a little dash of odious history to spice it up, as the America Firsters do so well.

AFers characterized themselves as Christian nationalists, meaning that they believe that the US is fundamentally a Christian nation, but elements of their movement reveal even deeper commitments to reactionary ideology. Fuentes has also made statements indicating Holocaust denial and promotes racist ideas (eg, “human biodiversity” and “race realism”) prominent among white nationalists. He also has a particular view of universal Catholic doctrine common among fascists. However, efforts to engage politically with different congregations outside of Catholicism characterize AF’s larger effort to move Trump supporters and the rest of the Republican Party toward white nationalist positions.

Fuentes openly debates other movement members from different congregations, like Pentecostalists and Seventh Day Adventists, about the nuances of revealed doctrine. To people who have expressed support for America First, Fuentes advises remaining discreet about their sympathies, while dropping hints about their beliefs and observing how their cohorts respond. In this way, America First works through entryism not just in college groups, and Turning Point USA most specifically, but also in churches and other right-wing organizations.

Have you ever seen or listened to Nick Fuentes? Like Pewdiepie, his popularity among a certain segment of the population is utterly incomprehensible to me — he’s a child-like hate machine who smiles and smirks while denying the Holocaust or taunting black people or encouraging authoritarian crackdowns on others (but not on him, oh no — that’s just an opportunity to claim victimhood). Fuentes himself might be on the road to irrelevancy — he’s been banned from YouTube and Twitter, and this kind of movement thrives best on social media — but they’re not done going through Lovecraftian changes and drinking the acid of insanity. I don’t think they’re going to fade away as long as social media survive on capitalist anarchy and leeching off the madness of crowds.

David Brooks knows nothing

Brooks was invited to opine on the American Indian boarding schools horror, and of course he fucked it up. Because he is David Brooks.

I think what strikes me, looking back, one, it’s there are so many levels to what happened. One is just the raw racism. I mean, they weren’t taking Ukrainian kids and ripping them from their parents. They were just taking Native American kids.

The second was the ideology. There was — after Darwinism, there were all these pseudoscientific crappy beliefs in races and in some civilizations were better than other civilizations. And, therefore, the idea that you’re doing somebody a favor by taking them away from their heritage is — that was a pseudointellectual belief system that was pervasive, not only in the fringes, but pervasive in Western society, this crazy, really garbage science Darwinism.

And then the final thing which is to be appreciated, which they did not have then, but hopefully we’re getting now, the idea that cultural diversity is a plus, and not a minus. And this is a — it’s not a recent phenomenon in world history. The Book of Jeremiah embraces cultural diversity.

For a group of people dedicated to preserving a certain vision of the past, conservatives have no sense of history. While I agree that evolution was readily seized upon, and is still happily used by racists, as a rationalization for racism, racism seems to have thrived throughout history before Darwin. Recall that Darwin went public with his theory in 1859. But Gobineau published his An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races in 1853…how did he do that? Did he have precognition? Thomas Jefferson, a slaver, was convinced that black people were “dull, tasteless, and anomalous”, and called for scientific research to establish the inferiority of the black race. Arthur Schopenhauer had a whole theory of racial virtues; but he died in 1860 (maybe The Origin killed him?). Hey! 1859! That was when the American Civil War, a war fought over slavery, was started. Darwin must have triggered it with this sudden revelation that racism was scientifically valid.

Indian boarding schools in America started with the Indian Civilization Act Fund, established by the US government in 1819, when Charles Darwin was ten years old. He was an ambitious and busy little boy, I guess. And then he turns around when he’s 15 and creates the Bureau of Indian Affairs! He wasn’t even American! I am so impressed.

I’m sorry, David Brooks, you don’t get to pretend that “raw racism” and racist ideology was spawned by “Darwinism”. Colonialism and the Enlightenment appeared side by side long before Darwin was born. You can be appalled at the crappy beliefs in races and in some civilizations were better than other civilizations, but Darwin didn’t invent it — he was living in the middle of it, soaking in the smug attitudes of Victorian England that were there long before he came on the scene.

As for Jeremiah, I’m not going to believe you, and I’m not going to waste my time reading through an old prophet’s screed looking for hints of multiculturalism. Besides, by the iron law of post hoc ergo propter hoc, which seems to be the guiding principle of conservative understanding of history (although they don’t seem to believe in any chronology besides “when I learned about it”), I’m going to have to blame every intolerant act since the 7th century BCE on Jeremiahism.

It’s a time warp! The Infinite Thread is back!

I’m consolidating things. I’m fusing the Open Thread (which died in 2020) and the Political Madness thread, which has been going strong all this time, thanks to the stewardship of Lynna, into one unholy amalgam of anything goes. Almost anything goes, that is. I’m hoping Lynna will continue to inject regular antidotes to the political madness, but also it’ll be a place where all the random odd thoughts and question and socializing can go on.

This would be the 20th iteration of the political madness thread, I think, so fill this up and we’ll go on to Infinite Thread XXI.

Oh, also: The Endless Thread has been maintained on Affinity. This is not a replacement for that lovely thread!

The Discovery Institute just keeps plugging along, pointlessly

Ahh, the Discovery Institute. A patent pseudoscientific think-tank funded by right-wing millionaires. Doesn’t that make you want to trust them?

They are now cheerfully leaping onto the anti-vax quack bandwagon — it’s where the money is, nowadays. They’ve come out with a new book, The Price of Panic, that tries to claim that the problem isn’t the pandemic, it’s the government’s response to the pandemic.

The human cost of the emergency response to COVID-19 has far outweighed the benefits. That’s the sobering verdict of a trio of scholars—a biologist, a statistician, and a philosopher— in this comprehensive assessment of the worst panic-induced disaster in history.

I think there are about 673,000 Americans who might argue with that. Oops, they can’t — they’re dead. You can always trust those bozos to get everything wrong.

The book is published by Regnery. Enough said.

Stephen Meyer is also out there pushing his new book, Return of the God Hypothesis. It is, of course, boring garbage. I’ve read a couple of Meyer’s books, but I’m not going to bother with this one — it’s all tedious, tendentious, repetitive nonsense, and all of his books sound the same. He might as well call the next one Bride of the God Hypothesis, then Son of the God Hypothesis, and maybe I’ll express some interest when Abbott and Costello Meet the God Hypothesis comes out.

Anyway, Meyer wrote an advertisement masquerading as a press release pretending to announce a serious idea, and the New York Post snapped it up. It does give you a taste of his bad argument.

As crazy as it all sounds, scientists have long posited the possibility of aliens on our planet. In fact, Francis Crick (who along with James Watson won the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of the DNA molecule) once theorized that life on Earth was “deliberately transmitted” by intelligent extra terrestrials. Far from being scorned, Crick’s “Directed panspermia” theory was presented at a conference organized by Carl Sagan in 1971 and later published as a scientific paper.

One of the hallmarks of a Meyer book is the constant name-dropping. Oooh, Francis Crick! Famous prestigious scientist indulged in some fantastical speculation, and it got presented at a meeting (this is less impressive than you might think) and published! <swoon> It must be good stuff! No, it’s not. It’s a wild-ass idea that went nowhere. Crick is not famous as a panspermist.

I have theorized that life arose when a Space Winnebago flushed their toilet tanks while visiting Hadean Earth. It doesn’t mean anything. It is not evidence for anything. Unfortunately, I haven’t won a Nobel Prize so I haven’t been invited to fumigate a conference hall with my brain farts.

Oooh, Bill Gates next!

Watson and Crick discovered that chemical subunits in DNA function like letters in a written language or digital symbols in computer code. As Bill Gates explains, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”

Bill Gates is a college dropout who knows nothing about biology, and who got rich on predatory business practices. He is not an authority on this subject. DNA is not like a computer program. It’s a misleading metaphor, applied by a guy who made computers his business. If he’d gotten rich off model railroad gear, he’d be claiming that DNA was just like a track, with switches.

How about Richard Dawkins? He’s got a little more credibility on this subject (but not much, and diminishing every time he opens his mouth).

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins echoes this assessment, noting the “machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.” In a recent tweet, he confessed to being knocked “sideways with wonder at the miniaturized intricacy of the data-processing machinery in the living cell.”

No, it’s not. He’s wrong. What does it even mean to speak of “machine code” of genes? Back in the ancient times of the 1970s, I sometimes wrote short bits of machine code, and I fail to see the appropriateness of the comparison. The cell and its genes are not computer-like at all, and it does not contain “data-processing machinery”, except in the vaguest sense of the phrase. This is word salad, written by someone who got a bit too excited about a metaphor. It serves Meyer’s purpose, though, so he goes ahead and uses it.

His purpose is to twist science, even Richard Dawkins’ philosophical atheism, into support for his favored assertion.

Believers in this kind of intelligence greatly outnumber believers in alien astronauts. They have long called this intelligence behind life and the universe by a different name.

They call it God.

It’s totally dishonest, of course. That’s written in the “machine code” of the Discovery Institute.

Meyer isn’t even a very good philosopher. He’s got one note that he bangs on, off-key, while desperately waving at out-of-context quotes from people who actually would strongly disagree with him.

Skip it. Ignore everything from that think-tank of lies.

William Regnery II is DEAD!

Fuck all these dudes.

Break out the party hats, the millionaire who funded so much evil and misinformation in the world has kicked the bucket, finally.

William H. Regnery II, a racist, reclusive multimillionaire who used his inherited fortune to finance vile white supremacist groups in the hopes of one day forming an American whites-only ethnostate, died earlier this month, his family and associates confirmed. He was 80 years old.

Regnery, whose family amassed riches from its right-wing publishing empire, died on July 2 in Florida after a “long battle with cancer,” his cousin Alfred, the former head of Regnery Publishing, confirmed to HuffPost.

I wouldn’t normally say this about a cancer victim, but jesus, I hope he suffered. He’s the lunatic with a fortune and a printing press who has been bankrolling creationists and fascists for decades. He gets a lengthy obit in the NY Times, the SPLC does a better job. This is the man who founded the National Policy Institute, if you like your Nazis with an innocuous title, and the Occidental Quarterly, if you want your racist pseudoscience dressed up as a pretend science journal.

I’d like to dream that the poison he injected into the nation will rot with his corpse, but I suspect there will be a new snake slithering into his place and his money.

Cassandra here; we’re all buggered

I could have told you months ago that this was going to happen. Thanks to the right-wing propaganda networks and the gullibility of the American citizen, the pandemic is coming back.

Federal health officials sounded an alarm Friday about a surge in U.S. coronavirus infections fueled by the twin threats posed by the highly transmissible delta variant and a stagnation in efforts to vaccinate as many Americans as possible.

During a White House briefing, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the seven-day average of coronavirus infections soared nearly 70 percent in just one week, to about 26,300 cases a day. The seven-day average for hospitalizations has increased, too, climbing about 36 percent from the previous seven-day period, she said.

“There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Walensky said. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk, and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well.”

Imagine your community is threatened by a brush fire. Everyone rushes to put it out; they spend a whole bunch of money on fire-fighting equipment. They get it mostly extinguished, there are just some smoldering coals left on the ground, and at that point we all say, “That’s taken care of, everyone go home, take it easy.” The next day, the neighborhood is burning again. Carl’s house burns down. We’re all sorry about Carl, but the fire is out, mostly, a few embers still smoking over by the gas station, but hey, this new fire extinguisher we bought is too heavy to haul over there to put it out completely, let’s just give up.

Maybe it’ll go out on its own. There couldn’t possibly be an explosion of flames that destroys the whole town. We’ll deal with it then, if we absolutely must.

When will we realize that it’s going to take a consistent, sustained effort to tamp this problem down? Nah, it’s too hard, probably never.

Oh,look. Florida leads the way.

About two weeks after Florida health officials discontinued publicly reporting some data and stopped issuing their daily COVID-19 summaries detailing cases, test positivity and vaccinations, some researchers remain concerned that the moves were made too early.

Even as the pandemic wanes, scientists such as Jennifer Nuzzo, a leading epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, say that state health departments should be presenting more data, not less, while the medical and science communities continue to gauge the effectiveness of a still-fresh vaccination campaign.

“It feels like we’re running a marathon and we’re almost giving up a couple miles from the finish line,” Nuzzo said in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Did you know 20% of the new cases in the US are in Florida?

Respect the Appalachians

They’re old. The reason that they’re not as craggy and tall as the Rockies or the Himalayas or even the Cascades is because they’ve been eroding for 480 million years. Follow this Twitter thread for an entertaining geology lesson.

If only the rest of Twitter could be that informative!