What are the grifters doing today?

It’s enlightening and amusing to see what the kooks are up to. They live in a world where every stupid idea that tumbles in the arid desert between their ears will find an audience.

  • The Qux. Some ex-Info-Wars reporter has figured out how to get rich: she has “invented” a mysterious electronic gadget called a Qux that she has crowdfunded to the tune of $170,000, and which she’ll sell for $150 a pop. Supposedly, it’s going to filter out the bad left-wing propaganda or vibrations or something from your TV set.

    Except that what it seems to be is some kind of cheap knock-off of a Roku box, and the port layout looks exactly like a generic Linux TV box that sells for $15-$30. It’s going to take you to the future, though!
    They do know their audience, though. They’ll buy it.
  • Purebloods. The super-geniuses of anti-vax are rebranding. They don’t want to be called “unvaccinated” anymore: instead, they are Purebloods. Yeah, they consciously stole it from the Harry Potter books, which, apparently, they didn’t read very closely because the Purebloods were the Nazi-like bad guys.
    Now, of course, they’re coming out with “Pureblood” merch, because it isn’t right-wing stupidity if you don’t make money off of it.

    Makes you wonder what JK Rowling would think of it. She might actually approve.

Good work, California

Governor Newsom will not be recalled, and he won’t be replaced with a deranged far-right talk radio host. Larry Elder even conceded the election. That’s all good. But get ready for the new normal:

With Newsom projected to defeat the recall, conservative radio host Larry Elder conceded the race early Wednesday morning, telling his audience to be “gracious in defeat.” But his campaign’s tactics in the lead-up to the vote — including open threats to raise doubts about the results in case of defeat — suggest the possibility of a new normal, where Republicans challenge election losses even in heavily Democratic states and without proof of serious fraud or rule-breaking.

The next presidential election is going to be the biggest circus yet. It doesn’t matter who runs, or how the vote goes, the ratfkers will be frantically fking all the rats, every one of them.


Oh, and this stupid, pointless recall cost California about $400 million. Thanks, Republicans, the party of fiscal responsibility.

The drawing and quartering of Bobby Lee has been done

It’s only a bit over 150 years too late, but I’ll take it — deserved worse. It’s also a barbaric punishment, but it’s only being done in effigy, so you can’t complain too much.

He does have his defenders, though, but it’s too bad that they include a certain stupid ex-president who declares Lee the greatest strategist of them all, except for Gettysburg. Wasn’t Gettysburg ultimately a tactical failure? And wasn’t the greater strategic failure getting involved in the Civil War at all? I’d have to say that Grant totally out-strategized Lee.

How’s life going for the Nazis among us?

Not well, as it turns out. Richard Spencer thought he was going to live happily ever after in his mother’s $3 million home in Whitefish, Montana, making media appearances and building a fascist empire and inspiring a new generation of American brownshirts, but he is, ummm, struggling.

In addition to his ex-wife filing for divorce in 2018, Spencer has been denied service in Whitefish establishments and keeps a “very low profile,” according to the Times.

Spencer has also dealt with mounting legal and financial troubles as his attorney, whom he has been unable to pay for his services, withdrew last summer from representing him in a lawsuit over his involvement in the Charlottesville rally, the Associated Press reported.

The trial will begin on October 25 at a federal courthouse in Charlottesville. Case documents reveal that counterprotestors and victims filed a suit against the organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia, who will be tried for conspiring to commit racial violence and potential hate crimes.

Awwww. His family broke up. He can’t get served in local restaurants. He’s dead broke. His lawyer abandoned him. He’s got a big trial coming up. And that’s not the worst thing…

All he will ever be remembered for is that he’s the Nazi who got punched in the face, and the only thing he has inspired is more Nazi-punching.

Meanwhile, another fascist with ambitious aspirations has his dreams crushed. Steve Bannon thought he had a classy joint to act as a base of operations in Italy, but he’s been thrown out and is going to have to look for new digs.

Steve Bannon’s plans to set up a right-wing nationalist “gladiator school” in an 800-year-old Italian monastery now lay in ruins. The Art Newspaper reported Wednesday that the Italian culture ministry has evicted Bannon’s close ally—British conservative Benjamin Harnwell—from the historic building after a long and drawn-out legal battle. The former Trump strategist wanted to bring far-right leaders and enthusiasts from around the world to the monastery in the hilltop town of Trisult. He told The New Yorker this year that the plan was to “generate the next Tom Cottons, Mike Pompeos, Nikki Haleys: that next generation that follows Trump.” However, to Bannon’s fury, Italy’s Council of State revoked the group’s lease in March, and now Harnwell has reportedly been removed from the building.

Anyone got a toxic waste dump they’re willing to share?

I think we ought to build him a legacy by destroying politically all the Tom Cottons, Mike Pompeos, and Nikki Haleys that are still around. What a great success, that he would cite those three as examples of his training.

Must every American story be built on a racist foundation?

OK, so after a long theater hiatus, I broke down and saw Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. There were some good bits, in particular the fight in the bus at the beginning, but after that it was a long slide down to end in a lot of CGI goop to wrap it up and incorporate the hero and Awkwafina in some kind of Avengers/superhero gemisch.

The big flaw in the movie was that there was so much exposition and so many flashbacks that the story never really got any momentum going. It’s a martial arts movie! Why are you stopping the kicking and punching and flying leaps to fill in a rather humdrum back story?

There’s a good reason for that, though. We have no cultural background on which to frame the story — they had to explain everything, because you won’t find it anywhere except in comic books from the 1970s. Shang-Chi was invented by two white American guys, based on their assumptions about Chinese culture, which were in turn formulated by an English novelist in the early 20th century. This has zero connections with Chinese culture and mythology — except for the idea that all Chinese guys should know chop-sockey.

Furthermore, that English novelist is best known for … Fu Manchu.

According to his own account, Sax Rohmer decided to start the Dr Fu Manchu series after his Ouija board spelled out C-H-I-N-A-M-A-N when he asked what would make his fortune. Clive Bloom argues that the portrait of Fu Manchu was based on the popular music hall magician Chung Ling Soo, “a white man in costume who had shaved off his Victorian moustache and donned a Mandarin costume and pigtail”. As for Rohmer’s theories concerning “Eastern devilry” and “the unemotional cruelty of the Chinese,” he seeks to give them intellectual credentials by referring to the travel writing of Bayard Taylor. Taylor was a would-be ethnographer, who though unversed in Chinese language and culture used the pseudo-science of physiognomy to find in the Chinese race “deeps on deeps of depravity so shocking and horrible, that their character cannot even be hinted.” Rohmer’s protagonists treat him as an authority.

Rohmer wrote 14 novels concerning the villain. The image of “Orientals” invading Western nations became the foundation of Rohmer’s commercial success, being able to sell 20 million copies in his lifetime.

Marvel originally based Shang-Chi on that concept. Shang-Chi was the son of the evil Fu Manchu. He was renamed in the movie as Xu Wenwu, because Marvel lost the rights to the Rohmer character. I notice, too, that although the movie has an amazing Asian cast, these are the writers:

Cretton, at least, is Asian-American, born to a mother of Japanese descent, but otherwise, this is a story by white guys built on a framework created by a racist idea of the Yellow Peril. At least Marvel is doing a bit of white-washing of its ugly history.


Correction: David Callaham is also Chinese-American, so two of the writers have appropriate connections.

I’ll also add that the movie has significant Asian contributions, and representation is important. I just think the source material has a troubling derivation.

What were they trying to hide?

Would it be suspicious if, after you committed murder, you immediately deleted your email records and shredded all your files? Because that’s what the Minnesota police did after they killed George Floyd, just ripping apart anything that might allow investigators to figure out what they were doing.

Minnesota State Patrol officers conducted a mass purge of emails and text messages immediately after their response to riots last summer, leaving holes in the paper trail as the courts and other investigators attempt to reconstruct whether law enforcement used improper force in the chaos following George Floyd’s murder.

In a recent court hearing in a lawsuit alleging the State Patrol targeted journalists during the unrest, State Patrol Maj. Joseph Dwyer said he and a “vast majority of the agency” deleted the communiqués after the riots, according to a transcript published to the federal court docket Friday night.

This file destruction “makes it nearly impossible to track the State Patrol’s behavior, apparently by design,” said attorneys for Minnesota’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is suing the state patrol and Minneapolis police on behalf of journalists who say they were assaulted by law enforcement while covering the protests and riots.

“The purge was neither accidental, automated, nor routine,” said ACLU attorneys, in a court motion that asks a judge to order the State Patrol to cease attacks on journalists who are covering protests. “The purge did not happen because of a file destruction or retention policy. No one reviewed the purged communications before they were deleted to determine whether the materials were relevant to this litigation.”

Quick, check their dictionaries — you’ll probably find they also deleted the word “accountability”.

They also deleted case files, throwing some drug prosecution cases in peril (which seems like a good thing).

The revelations come as Minneapolis police say they’re also investigating why officers in the Second Precinct — across the city from where the riots took place — shredded case files during the riots last summer. Attorneys say police destroyed key evidence to charges in a drug prosecution and have asked a Hennepin County Judge to throw out the case.

In the July 28 hearing, Dwyer said they were not acting on an order from on high to delete records, but it’s “standard practice” for the troopers to so.

“You just decided, shortly after the George Floyd protests, this would be a good time to clean out my inbox?” asked ACLU attorney Kevin Riach.

Dwyer answered in the affirmative.

Now I’m curious. If there was no coordination, and no instructions from on high, why did so many police officers suddenly get in the mood to do some serious house-cleaning, and how many policemen were involved? It’s not necessarily a conspiracy — I mean, I get in the mood to clean up my office when I’ve got a major deadline in my face and want to procrastinate — but something motivated these officers to up and throw out evidence. What was it, if not a command from a superior?

Could it be…guilt?

Socialism with slavery?

Gosh, I guess I can learn something from a troll. I was cleaning out the spam trap and noticed a message from a particularly persistent and mostly incoherent troll, and I made the mistake of reading it and learned about someone peculiar.

Why have you never said a word about George Fitzhugh, and his very effective argument that slavery is inherently socialistic?! If Capitalism is the cause of racism and inequality, why not rebut his work?! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fitzhugh

I’ve never said a word about Fitzhugh because this is the first I ever heard of him, simple as that. Fitzhugh was an antebellum crank, a fierce defender of slavery, not the kind of guy I tend to look to for information, but sure, I looked at his Wikipedia entry.

George Fitzhugh (November 4, 1806 – July 30, 1881) was an American social theorist who published racial and slavery-based sociological theories in the antebellum era. He argued that the negro “is but a grown up child” who needs the economic and social protections of slavery. Fitzhugh decried capitalism as practiced by the Northern United States and Great Britain as spawning “a war of the rich with the poor, and the poor with one another”, rendering free blacks “far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition.” Slavery, he contended, ensured that blacks would be economically secure and morally civilized. Nonetheless, some historians consider Fitzhugh’s worldview to be fascist in its rejection of liberal values, defense of slavery, and perspectives toward race.

Fascinating. It’s a very strange perspective on socialism, or what Fitzhugh considered socialism, which was a very confused subject in his mind. He doesn’t argue that slavery is socialistic; quite the contrary, he argued that the North was afflicted with an “alarming” degree of socialism, while simultaneously claiming to be a socialist. So to figure this out, I skimmed his book, Cannibals All! or, Slaves Without Masters, looking for some clarity. I didn’t find it. But boy, is that a trip.

What is his argument? First, one part I can agree with: he considers capitalism to be an oppressive system in which elites profit from the labor of workers. He deplores the Northern system which, he argues, puts white workers in a position worse than that of a black slave. This is practically a pamphlet for communism, except that he also deplores communism, and thinks the Northern capitalist economy is implicitly socialistic. I tried to sort that out, and couldn’t, but can at least confirm that he’s anti-capitalist. Which is anti-socialist. I’m lost.

Probably, you are a lawyer, or a merchant, or a doctor, who have made by your business fifty thousand dollars, and retired to live on your capital. But, mark! not to spend your capital. That would be vulgar, disreputable, criminal. That would be, to live by your own labor; for your capital is your amassed labor. That would be, to do as common working men do; for they take the pittance which their employees leave them, to live on. They live by labor; for they exchange the results of their own labor for the products of other people’s labor. It is, no doubt, an honest, vulgar way of living; but not at all a respectable way. The respectable way of living is, to make other people work for you, and to pay them nothing for so doing—and to have no concern about them after their work is done. Hence, white slave-holding is much more respectable than negro slavery—for the master works nearly as hard for the negro, as he for the master. But you, my virtuous, respectable reader, exact three thousand dollars per annum from white labor, (for your income is the product of white labor,) and make not one cent of return in any form. You retain your capital, and never labor, and yet live in luxury on the labor of others. Capital commands labor, as the master does the slave. Neither pays for labor; but the master permits the slave to retain a larger allowance from the proceeds of his own labor, and hence “free labor is cheaper than slave labor.” You, with the command over labor which your capital gives you, are a slave owner—a master, without the obligations of a master. They who work for you, who create your income, are slaves, without the rights of slaves. Slaves without a master! Whilst you were engaged in amassing your capital, in seeking to become independent, you were in the White Slave Trade. To become independent, is to be able to make other people support you, without being obliged to labor for them. Now, what man in society is not seeking to attain this situation? He who attains it, is a slave owner, in the worst sense. He who is in pursuit of it, is engaged in the slave trade. You, reader, belong to the one or other class. The men without property, in free society, are theoretically in a worse condition than slaves. Practically, their condition corresponds with this theory, as history and statistics every where demonstrate. The capitalists, in free society, live in ten times the luxury and show that Southern masters do, because the slaves to capital work harder and cost less, than negro slaves.

It would help if I knew what his definition of socialism was. I searched the book for a clue, and this as close as I could come: Socialism is the same as Abolitionism and 19th century Republicanism, which I guess means that Abe Lincoln was the American version of Chairman Mao. So sorry, Mr Troll, how can you claim that he argues that slavery equals socialism if he thinks that abolition equals slavery? Now I’m even more confused.

We wish to prove that the great movement in society, known under various names, as Communism, Socialism, Abolitionism, Red Republicanism and Black Republicanism, has one common object: the breaking up of all law and government, and the inauguration of anarchy, and that the destruction of the family is one of the means in which they all concur to attain a common end.

At the same time, Fitzhugh claims to be a socialist, and also opposes a free society.

We (for we are a Socialist) agree with Mr. Carlyle, that the action of free society must be reversed. That, instead of relaxing more and more the bonds that bind man to man, you must screw them up more closely. That, instead of no government, you must have more government. And this is eminently true in America, where from the nature of things, as society becomes older and population more dense, more of government will be required. To prevent the attempt at transition, which would only usher in revolution, you must begin to govern more vigorously.

The whole book is an exercise in paradox. He goes on and on about how capitalism is exploitive and awful, and damn those Yankees with their population of white slaves creating an industrial machine, while also telling us that socialism is anarchy and must be stopped, while also announcing that he is a socialist. I’m sorry, Mr Troll, this isn’t an effective argument for anything. These are the rants of a confused old man who retired to a Southern mansion and spent his time firing off incoherent screeds at newspapers.

There is one thing he is consistent on, though: black slavery is a benign institution, and we ought to expand it to allow white laborers to be enslaved, too. They’ll all be happier under the kindly hand of a master.

The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they are oppressed neither by care nor labor. The women do little hard work, and are protected from the despotism of their husbands by their masters. The negro men and stout boys work, on the average, in good weather, not more than nine hours a day. The balance of their time is spent in perfect abandon. Besides, they have their Sabbaths and holidays. White men, with so much of license and liberty, would die of ennui; but negroes luxuriate in corporeal and mental repose. With their faces upturned to the sun, they can sleep at any hour; and quiet sleep is the greatest of human enjoyments. “Blessed be the man who invented sleep.” ‘Tis happiness in itself—and results from contentment with the present, and confident assurance of the future. We do not know whether free laborers ever sleep. They are fools to do so; for, whilst they sleep, the wily and watchful capitalist is devising means to ensnare and exploitate them. The free laborer must work or starve. He is more of a slave than the negro, because he works longer and harder for less allowance than the slave, and has no holiday, because the cares of life with him begin when its labors end. He has no liberty, and not a single right. We know, ’tis often said, air and water, are common property, which all have equal right to participate and enjoy; but this is utterly false. The appropriation of the lands carries with it the appropriation of all on or above the lands, usque ad cœlum, aut ad inferos. A man cannot breathe the air, without a place to breathe it from, and all places are appropriated. All water is private property “to the middle of the stream,” except the ocean, and that is not fit to drink.

Uh, yeah. I think he has built his twisty sociological edifice atop some extraordinarily fallacious premises.

Still, he was a fascinating hate-monger and kook, but not someone to look to for an insightful analysis of 19th century American society…or any society for that matter. I wouldn’t even recognize him as a socialist, since he’s not arguing for any kind of placement of any degree of ownership in the means of production to workers — he wants an authoritarian government of hereditary elites who strip all benefit from the workers’ labors and place it in the hands of hypothetically benign slave-owners. Far from being an effective argument that slavery is inherently socialistic, he’s really just a racist arguing that slavery is good.

Also, he later changed his mind.

He reversed course on capitalism’s pernicious effects, arguing that “the monopoly of property, or capital, by the few” was “the only means of begetting, sustaining and advancing civilization.”

Browsing his book, I recognize that what he really is is a predecessor to the Neo-Reactionary Movement, or the Dark Enlightenment, that libertarian wet dream of replacing the American government with an absolute monarchy in which the rich have total control. I don’t think I need to waste time any further with that horrible racist, Mr Troll: I don’t see anything coherent or true that I need to rebut.

Remember now

June 2003:

August 2021:

Never forget: George W. Bush is a stinking piece of shit. Please remember this next time the news networks decide to show him harmlessly puttering about with his bad paintings.

Oh, also: don’t forget that the 24 hour news networks exist to sell you gold, overpriced pharmaceuticals, buckets of freeze-dried survivalist food, and life insurance (you’ll need it), not information.

For me, it all brings back memories.

We never learn our lesson.

Here’s an interesting point from the Wall Street Journal:

You might wonder why we didn’t train the Afghan army appropriately, given their reputation as formidable fighters, and given that the less well-equipped, relatively primitive, but ultimately overwhelmingly victorious Taliban. That’s easy. This war was fought not for freedom, but to be a sink for the sale of extremely expensive gadgetry by defense contractors. Could we please remember that, too, next time the Republicans start rallying for invasions and assaults and bombing campaigns against civilians? Or when Democrats think they’re being clever by building sneaky little drones to murder people?

There’s a headline to freak out the white supremacists

I expect this will terrify the right-wingers — will Tucker Carlson be giving everyone his confused look over it? (No shock there — stupefaction is his only expression).

I’ll just say meh. It’s no big deal, this is a demographic shift that everyone has seen coming for a long time.

The first race and ethnicity breakdowns from the 2020 Census, released Thursday, show a more diverse nation than ever in the nation’s history.

The report marks the first time the absolute number of people who identify as White alone has shrunk since a census started being taken in 1790. The White population fell from 223.6 million in 2010 to 204.3 million in 2020, a decrease of 8.6 percent.

The country also passed another milestone on its way to becoming a majority-minority society in the coming decades: For the first time, the portion of White people dipped below 60 percent, slipping from 63.7 percent in 2010 to 57.8 percent in 2020.

That first paragraph is nothing but good news. If anything will erode the endemic bias in this country, it’s more diversity.

The decline is not a consequence of persecution or deaths. It’s a combination of a more rapidly increasing non-white population, more interracial children, and wealthier people (a lot of white people in that category) electing to have fewer children. Big whoop — my white children and grandchildren are not harmed by a shift caused by more brown people thriving. This is not ‘replacement’. The gene pool still contains many white gametes (it feels weird to write that, since gametes do not have a color), they’re just intermingling more. This is a good thing.

We can hope for a more egalitarian future, in which the color of your skin does not make a major difference in your success in life. Keep in mind, though, that history is going to reverberate for many generations to come.

Cuomo put in charge of the Department of Not Getting It

Governor Andrew Cuomo might not be governor for long. The New York state attorney general has determined that he was guilty of sexual harassment and creating a hostile workplace for women. Biden has called on him to resign.

Investigators laid out a devastating portrait of Cuomo’s behavior and extensive examples of unwanted touching, including an incident last November in which Cuomo allegedly embraced an executive assistant and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. Witnesses also described an environment in the governor’s office that was abusive and vindictive, with one of the women who came forward targeted for retaliation through the release of her personnel file, investigators said.

In all, the independent probe found that Cuomo harassed 11 women, including a state trooper whom the governor arranged to be put on his detail.

Cuomo has made an absolutely mad rebuttal. He posted a document that includes 8 pages of photographs of Cuomo kissing and hugging various people, including his mother, and 15 pages of photos of other politicians kissing and hugging people (see, they do it too!). It’s embarrassingly irrelevant, and shows that he doesn’t understand the problem at all.

No one thinks it is wrong to hug your mother, as long as she consents. No one thinks public displays of affection are a crime. Were you abusive and vindictive to your mom? Did you create a hostile work environment for your mom growing up? There are specific, verified accusations of vindictive behavior in the New York governor’s office, and that is the problem.