Good luck with accreditation, New College of Florida!

This is how Ron Desantis wants to handle higher education: fire everyone! Kick the faculty and administration out!

He somehow seems to think that a university is just a collection of buildings, rather than people and traditions and a well-established curriculum. So he hires a couple of clueless goons, Chris Rufo and Eddie Speir, and tries to put them in charge of everything.

Somebody should explain to them that their accreditation is not a piece of paper glued to a building. It’s part of a process that involves active engagement with the faculty and administration — you know, all the people that they want to dismiss — and when they go, the institution evaporates. It’s gone. All the currently enrolled students are screwed. The university will have to start over completely from scratch, rebuilding a reputation and a curriculum that was just annihilated.

New College is a public liberal arts college that was founded in 1960. I’m at the University of Minnesota Morris, a public liberal arts college that was founded in 1960. I’m going to have to take this a bit personally.

Where do Nazis come from, Mommy?

If I had to guess, I would have figured they were hatched out of the slimy runoff from a sewage treatment plant, but no! There are people who take little kids and teach to be Nazis! It’s an online school, of course, titled “Dissident Homeschool.”

“It is up to us to ensure our children know him for the deceitful, dishonest, riot-inciting negro he actually was,” the administrator of the network’s Telegram channel wrote, alongside a downloadable lesson plan for elementary school children. ”He is the face of a movement which ethnically cleansed whites out of urban areas and precipitated the anti-white regime that we are now fighting to free ourselves from.”

Since the group began in October 2021 it has openly embraced Nazi ideology and promoted white supremacy, while proudly discouraging parents from letting their white children play with or have any contact with people of any other race. Admins and members use racist, homophobic, and antisemitic slurs without shame, and quote Hitler and other Nazi leaders daily in a channel open to the public.

One problem here is that we’ve been steadily degrading the meaning of the word “school”. When I was a kid I had a relative who bought a house and set up a “school” to teach the principles of the John Birch Society — at that point, you had to have some kind of facility and had to fill out some paperwork in order to shovel your garbage into children’s heads. He was only able to poison the brains of a small number of families, but nowadays, anyone can assemble a pile of bullshit, call it an online school, and spew it out through a channel on Telegram, and amplify the signal. “Dissident Homeschool” has 2400 members! We can at least hope many of them are critics tracking the nonsense, and that some of those families are treating it as supplemental and also sending their kids to a real school.

The “Dissident Homeschool” network is run by a husband and wife team who use the aliases “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon.” This week the antifascist research group Anonymous Comrades Collective published a detailed report that unmasked the Saxons as Logan and Katja Lawrence, who live in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, with their four young children.

Oops. I doxxed the Nazis! No regrets.

Lawrence expanded on her view on why she wanted to educate her children at home. “We have our children’s best interest at heart and nobody can do a better job than we can because it’s our child. We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” she said.

There are no good Nazis.

The Right Stuff and the National Justice League were described by the Anti-Defamation League as “virulently antisemitic”, while 31 members of Patriot Front were arrested last year inside a U-haul truck on their way to an LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, carrying shields and smoke grenades.

Yet Katja attempts to describe these group’s activities as entirely wholesome.

If your agenda involves treating a significant proportion of the population as degenerate and evil on the basis of irreverent criteria like the color of their skin, you aren’t “wholesome”.

We really need better enforcement of rules defining what constitutes a school, preferably one that establishes a required curriculum, but the combination of Republicans trying to carve up educational funding for their own selfish benefit, and religious groups demanding special privileges to indoctrinate their dogma means all these gaps and loopholes form that allow Nazis to burrow in and thrive.

Troll farming is a growth industry

Behold the social media harvest! Pay me!

This will not end well, as we’re already seeing. Elon Musk recently pardoned a whole army of right-wing scumbags, allowing them to tweet freely, and then got reminded why they were banned in the first place. Nick Fuentes, the Nazi-loving anti-semite, took advantage of his new bullhorn to declare, We love Hitler…bitch!, and got banned again within 24 hours. You know, this was entirely predictable. That’s what Fuentes always does, ramping up the hatred to get his followers excited. He can do nothing else — if he toned down the rhetoric, his rabid base would evaporate.

Now Facebook/Meta/whatever mask Zuckerberg is wearing now, announced that they’re unbanning Donald Trump. They didn’t offer a good reason.

In an interview with Axios, which first reported the news, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, said the company had decided to allow Trump to regain access to his account shortly ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

Clegg added that he hoped Trump wouldn’t want to “delegitimize” the 2024 election as he did the 2020 election, should he decide to return to the platform.

“We just do not want — if he is to return to our services — for him to do what he did on January 6, which is to use our services to delegitimize the 2024 election, much as he sought to discredit the 2020 election,” Clegg said. “We’ve always believed that Americans should be able to hear from the people who want to lead the country.”

Oh. They let him back because they “hope” he won’t continue to do what he’s been constantly doing for the last several years. That’s not very rational. These bozos really need to read the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

I think Amanda Marcotte has figured out the real reason they want him back online. Meta has been an embarrassing debacle and is bleeding money. Trump is a trick to provoke more traffic.

This isn’t about fairness, free speech, or democracy — all values Trump has spent the past 8 years trying to destroy. It’s likely not even that much about Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s well-documented willingness to be bullied by right-wingers. This is almost certainly about one thing and one thing only: money.

It’s not just the money that Trump’s campaign will spend on Meta. Trump himself, by being the most famous and repugnant troll in the world, is just big business for social media. His fascism, his bigotry, his cruelty and even his poor spelling and grammar all draw attention from fans and haters alike, creating a whirlwind of clicks and engagement that more responsible content simply can’t match. As tech journalist Kara Swisher notes, “Enragement equals engagement.” Trump makes liberals angry, makes his fans angry at liberals, causes fights and incentivizes dunks. Every post generates huge numbers of reposts both praising and condemning him. Democracy can’t stand a chance against the sheer profitability engine that is his unique combination of stupidity, ego, and hatefulness. He’s the worst person imaginable, but that is all the more reason we can’t look away.

Exactly. The social media companies have figured out that troll farms are the cheap way to harvest clicks. They will then go to the capitalist companies and trade their bounty of clicks for real money, and the companies have not yet figured out how to tell cheap rage clicks from valuable quality clicks, so they pay up. The social media giants have been working very hard to devalue their product, and I hope someday everyone catches on.

Marcotte accurately describes what Facebook is currently selling.

At this point, Facebook has little choice but to lean into the userbase it still has: aging Boomers who believed they were joining to share pictures of grandkids but end up spending hours of the day on the site further alienating themselves from their kids through their addiction to COVID-19 denialism memes and conspiracy theories about “antifa.” Not injecting Trump into that situation is, from a profitability standpoint, like marketing a cruise line to retirees that doesn’t feature an all-you-can-eat buffet. In this case, all they’re eating is fascist propaganda.

Even more than Fox News, Facebook is why your grandpa thinks the city you live in is a burned-out husk where BLM protesters and “antifa” won’t let you out of your house unless you change your gender. From a purely business standpoint, leaving Trump out of that is like not stocking Coca-Cola in a grocery’s soda aisle.

Tossing Donald Trump into that barrel of garbage isn’t going to put Facebook on the comeback trail, for sure.

About how I feel about the latest political contretemps

I’m not impressed with the fools who think the two on the left are equivalent to the crook on the right. Those two tell us that the system is sloppier and leakier than it ought to be, the guy on the right is directly practicing his personal criminal intent. It’s that simple.

Also, I think Luckovich’s caricature of Trump is the best out there.

You have a hundred million dollars? You can stop right there, I know you’re a crook

The title of this article is a challenge: “I’m a corporate fraud investigator. You wouldn’t believe the hubris of the super-rich.” Oh yeah? Try me. You’d be hard-pressed to tell me about an excess of the wealthy that I wouldn’t believe. And I’m sorry, but the rest of the article is the expected litany of banal privilege: expensive cars, jets, and yachts, tax fraud, organized crime, lies, threats, growing corruption. Ho hum. There’s no such thing as an ethical multi-millionaire, as I expect we’ve all learned.

I did appreciate the core message, though.

There is something unique to our era that encourages the charlatan. As well as investigating corporations, I am also a novelist, and I think we live in the age of the corporate fairy-tale: a magical land of unicorns and eternal growth. “What’s the story?” investors like to ask about the latest hot start-up, willing the narrative to be true even as they live the myth of their own absolute rationality.

Elon Musk once said: “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time.” Put another way, if the emperor believes he is wearing wonderful clothes, others will start to believe it too. When I was researching my debut novel, in which a tyrant’s wife stands trial for her husband’s corruption, I found someone else making an eerily similar point to Musk. It wasn’t from another business leader; it was Imelda Marcos. “Perception is real,” the wife of the former Philippines dictator said. “And the truth is not.”

The ultra-rich are all in the business of selling an illusion. All the criminality and corruption is leaving the illusion in tatters, though, let’s hope that more people will see through the game.

Politics is for the kids who never grew out of high school

I may be old, but I still remember high school. Do you? The cliques, the drama, the petty squabbles, the abusive Mean Girls and jocks? It’s all coming back.

The Republican party supported Herschel Walker because he was a football player, never mind that he was as dumb as a post, and Oz, because he was rich.

They’re handing committee memberships to George Santos, despite the fact that he’s a constitutive liar who cheated his way into office.

It’s clear that the Republicans are the Superficials, the in-group of people who strive to look glossy and fashionable, no matter how dull their minds are. What clinched my recognition that we’re back in high school is that Boebert and Greene are bickering.

The crest of the battle was played out on Jan. 7 in the speaker’s lobby ladies’ room, The Daily Beast reports, when a source says, “Greene questioned Boebert’s loyalty to McCarthy.”

Another source reportedly said that Greene asked Boebert, “You were okay taking millions of dollars from McCarthy, but you refuse to vote for him for Speaker, Lauren?”

Unaware Boebert was in the bathroom when she emerged from the stall, the first source told The Daily Beast that Lauren said to Greene, “Don’t be ugly,” and then “ran out like a little schoolgirl.”

Fighting in the girls’ room. Oh, grow up.

What’s particularly appalling is that Jacinda Ardern is resigning from her position as prime minister of New Zealand. What a contrast.

Ardern won praise for her calm stewardship of the Pacific nation through a number of major events, including the coronavirus pandemic, a volcanic eruption and the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack. She spearheaded legislation to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles just six days after the attack, in which more than 50 people were killed.

Can you imagine a Boebert or a Greene in a similar position? Oh hell no.

I want a transfer to that other high school on the far side of the Pacific Ocean.

One bad apple

Here’s a horrifying list of crimes committed, and admitted to, by one man in the UK.

24 counts of rape
nine counts of sexual assault
five counts of assault by penetration
three counts of coercive and controlling behaviour
three counts of false imprisonment
two counts of attempted rape
one count of attempted sexual assault by penetration
one count of causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent
one count of indecent assault

That’s bad enough, but to make it worse, he was a police officer who used his privileges to run a little corrupt empire of violence and abuse.

Must be a case of “one bad apple,” right? Except that this villain, David Carrick, had been on the police force for over 20 years, and had a history of abusive behavior.

The Met has apologised after it emerged he had come to the attention of police over nine incidents, including rape allegations, between 2000 and 2021.

A senior officer said his offending was “unprecedented in policing”.

Oh, really? “Unprecedented”? His fellow officers knew about his reputation, and joked about it; they had formal complaints about his crimes spread over two decades. They did nothing. Now members of the police force are standing around, shrugging, claiming they had no idea this sort of thing was going on, hrumph.

Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray, the Met’s lead for professionalism, said: “We should have spotted his pattern of abusive behaviour and because we didn’t, we missed opportunities to remove him from the organisation.

“We are truly sorry that being able to continue to use his role as a police officer may have prolonged the suffering of his victims.

Everyone else knew, though.

Harriet Wistrich, director of campaign group the Centre for Women’s Justice, said: “We have known for some time that there has been a culture of impunity for such offending by police officers.

“Recent reports show a woefully deficient vetting and misconduct system and a largely unchallenged culture of misogyny in some sections of the Met.

“That Carrick could have not only become a police officer but remain a serving officer for so long whilst he perpetrated these horrific crimes against women, is terrifying.”

A first step: fire every police officer who has been charged with domestic violence immediately. Just as a start.

Oops, there goes 40% of the police force. That’s a good start, but probably not Draconian enough. What else can you do when the whole barrel is rotten, to the point the staves are decaying?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the governor of Arkansas now

It sort of tells you all you need to know about the Republicans of Arkansas — that they would elect a whiny, lying, thin-skinned mouthpiece for the status quo with no administrative experience to a high position. What’s even more revealing, though, are her first acts in office.

Within hours of being sworn in as the new governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an executive order Tuesday banning the term “Latinx” from official use in the state government.

It is one of the first, if not the first, executive order of its kind, Tabitha Bonilla, an associate professor of human development and social policy at Northwestern University, told NBC News.

It was one of seven orders signed by Sanders, a Republican, right after taking the oath. The other ones focused on prohibiting Arkansas schools from teaching critical race theory, budgeting and spending as well as other government affairs.

That seems petty, that the first thing she does is have a snit over what some people call themselves. We must police the language, apparently, and that means dictating what words may be spoken and written in her presence, probably all in the name of free speech. It’s all about the “anti-woke agenda”.

For Ed Morales, the author of the book “Latinx: The New Force in American Politics and Culture,” the governor’s seemingly sudden interest to ban the term Latinx — which is often derided by conservatives and debated among some Latinos — speaks to “this anti-woke agenda” the Republican Party has increasingly adopted.

“It is something that seems to be tied to things that they object to, which is really anything that prioritizes marginalized people and marginalized points of view,” Morales said.

Anti-woke is just another way of saying white supremacy. Every little thing she does is going to be about white supremacy, as you can tell from her first priorities.

I believe they are all witches

There is no bar too low. A recently elected Republican representative from Florida, Anna Paulina Luna — you know this is a poor start to anything — is squabbling with a competitor, and has sued him to get him to retract defamatory claims.

A letter obtained by The Daily Beast reveals that the Florida Republican retained the high-powered law firm Holland & Knight to go after a would-be rival who leveled a series of outlandish allegations against Luna on the Bubba the Love Sponge radio show in the fall.

The letter demands that Matt Tito, a pal of Roger Stone who mulled challenging Luna in a primary, apologize on video for his accusations, which include claims that Luna was fired from a job—and that she had a sexual liaison with Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Oh, what a world…that a show called Bubba the Love Sponge would have any credibility, and that it would even exist, is an indictment of the Florida radio audience. OK, but I agree, an accusation that one had sex with that slimeball Matt Gaetz is grossly insulting. Focus on that…oh wait, she’s more concerned about a different accusation?

“You said that Ms. Luna (a devout Christian) practices witchcraft,” Lisko added.

“You are hereby demanded to publicly and immediately retract each and every defamatory statement you made about Ms. Luna on the show,” Lisko continued. “Because you do not have the ability to distribute your retraction widely on your social media, you are demanded to apologize and retract your statements on the Bubba the Love Sponge Show or by making a retraction and apology video that you send to me that Ms. Luna will distribute via her social media.”

Tito is not backing down. He claims to have evidence that she is a witch based on hearsay statements from “MAGA figures,” so we’re already relying on dubious sources.

Tito claimed he learned about Luna’s purported background from other MAGA figures.

According to Tito, Hispanics for Trump associate Paloma Zuniga said that “Luna practices witchcraft.”

“That is where I heard that from,” Tito said. “She puts spells on people.”

Their reasoning is remarkable.

Another failed California Republican congressional hopeful, Omar Navarro, suggested the unsubstantiated rumors must be accurate because so many people were repeating them.

“It has got to be true to a certain extent,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s fair enough to say that it’s spread among people in the Republican Party.”

So Ted Cruz actually is the Zodiac killer? All it takes is enough people saying something is true for it to be true? If enough of us simply say that all Republicans are witches, they’ll all be run out of office, or they’ll use their sorcerous powers to enchant the public into believing them.

Who is to say that last possibility isn’t already true? Witches, every one.

The NYTimes hired a new opinion columnist?

Given their track record, pardon me for expecting the worst.

Also, hey look, they hired David French, meeting my very low expectations.

French served as a senior counsel for ADF, a legal advocacy group that has opposed any expansion of LGBTQ+ civil rights as an attack on so-called “religious freedom.” ADF has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

During his time as an ADF counsel, he defended a Georgia graduate student who sued her university after being told that her anti-gay “Christian beliefs” were incompatible with the standards of her desired profession as a psychological counselor. The student considered homosexuality an “immoral” “lifestyle choice.”

French signed onto a 2017 religious right document called the “Nashville Statement,” which said God designed marriage to be only between a man and a woman. The document also stated “it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism,” and called transgender identity and homosexuality a sin and “at odds with God.”

I seriously wonder how their hiring meetings operate. I’ve participated in a few here at the university, and they always being with a meeting with HR, where they go over our criteria, which are typically stuff like, “must teach organic chemistry,” with an HR person to remind us that nothing about our search criteria excludes women and minorities, and then when we’ve got a preliminary list of candidate for phone interviews, that list is sent to HR where they inspect it for bias (“why is your list only white men?”), and after we winnow the list down over the phone, we send it to HR for approval before we invite anyone for an in-person interview, while carefully justifying each exclusion (“did you drop this person from the pool because they have an accent?” “Heck no, it’s because they want to do quantum neurochemistry and we don’t have the facilities.”) Every thing is about making sure we do all our selection on the basis of assessment of ability.

The NY Times, on the other hand, seems to have a simple process in which they look for a conservative white dude, and then a Sulzberger rubber-stamps the name. “Oh, he’s a gormless bigot? Love him already.”

They still pay David Brooks for his babbling. Every choice they made after that is suspect.