Confirmed: We are the baddies

This is the tale of a “heroic” Navy SEAL, Edward Gallagher.

The investigation report said several members of the platoon told investigators that Chief Gallagher showed little regard for the safety of team members or the lives of civilians. Their mission was to advise Iraqi forces and provide assistance with snipers and drones, but they said the chief wanted instead to clear houses and start firefights.

He would order them to take what seemed to be needless risks, and to fire rockets at houses for no apparent reason, they said. He routinely parked an armored truck on a Tigris River bridge and emptied the truck’s heavy machine gun into neighborhoods on the other side with no discernible targets, according to one senior SEAL.

Chief Gallagher’s job was to plan and oversee missions for the platoon, but platoon members said he spent much of his time in a hidden perch with a sniper rifle, firing three or four times as often as other platoon snipers. They said he boasted about the number of people he had killed, including women.

Photos from the deployment that were stored on a hard drive seized by the Navy show the chief aiming sniper rifles and rocket launchers from rooftops in the city.

Two SEAL snipers told investigators that one day, from his sniper nest, Chief Gallagher shot a girl in a flower-print hijab who was walking with other girls on the riverbank. One of those snipers said he watched through his scope as she dropped, clutching her stomach, and the other girls dragged her away.

Another day, two other snipers said, the chief shot an unarmed man in a white robe with a wispy white beard. They said the man fell, a red blotch spreading on his back.

Before the 2017 deployment, Chief Gallagher ordered a hatchet and a hunting knife, both handmade by a SEAL veteran named Andrew Arrabito with whom he had served, text messages show. Hatchets have become an unofficial SEAL symbol, and some operators carry and use them on deployments. Chief Gallagher told Mr. Arrabito in a text message shortly after arriving in Iraq, “I’ll try and dig that knife or hatchet on someone’s skull!”

On the morning of May 4, 2017, Iraqi troops brought in an Islamic State fighter who had been wounded in the leg in battle, SEALs told investigators, and Chief Gallagher responded over the radio with words to the effect of “he’s mine.” The SEALs estimated that the captive was about 15 years old. A video clip shows the youth struggling to speak, but SEAL medics told investigators that his wounds had not appeared life-threatening.

A medic was treating the youth on the ground when Chief Gallagher walked up without a word and stabbed the wounded teenager several times in the neck and once in the chest with his hunting knife, killing him, two SEAL witnesses said.

Yes, there was an investigation. He was acquitted of multiple murders and was punished by being demoted one rank. That was it. This so angered the brave men and women who want the right to gun down young girls and old men that they lobbied hard to have this petty punishment dismissed, and they won: Donald Trump gave him a full pardon and restored his previous rank.

The man is a monster, as are many of his fellow SEALs. I’ll make an exception for the SEALs who were so outraged at his behavior that they brought him up on charges. Only now he’s back in business, tainting the honor, what’s left of it, of the military.

What is that guy going to be like if he ever returns to civilian life?

So, the Royal Family…what a piece of work, eh?

I listened to a bit of the interview with Prince Andrew and a couple of things leapt out at me as off. Just reekingly wrong.

After the interviewer recounts the story of Virginia Roberts, that they dined and danced together, went to a party hosted by billionaire sleaze and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, that he took her upstairs, and that he then had sex with her, and his reply is that he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady.” You know, if someone confronted me with an accusation that I’d attended a billionaire sex party in Belgravia and took a specific woman into a bedroom to have my wicked way with her, my first reaction would be to indignantly state that I have never done any such thing, not to deny the identity of the woman I did it with. So can I take it as given that he was sexing up strange women so heedlessly that he had no idea who they were?

Also, he was hanging out in New York with a convicted pedophile because it was “convenient” and “the honourable and right thing to do” where the honourable thing to do was get foot massages from young Russian women and troop around with an assortment of youthful ladies — so many that he can’t remember them individually — for four days. This is a standard for dignified behavior of which I have not heard before. I’ve been doing everything wrong, I guess.

I’ve also missed out on the definition of “party”.

Andrew denied that there was a party at the residence or that he spent much time with Epstein away from their Central Park stroll.

He also said he was not aware of the presence of underage girls at the house, stating that Epstein’s house was like a “railway station,” so he could not comment about who was coming in and out.

Now he’s apologizing for behavior “not becoming of a member of the royal family”, which is remarkable. This is the family of Racist Prince Philip, Squidgygate, Prince Charles’s extramarital affair, Fergie’s toe-licking, and Andrew attending a party wearing a swastika armband, the family that has inherited billions scavenged from the British people, all for the onerous task of performing ribbon-cuttings and hosting parties. He must have done very bad things if he feels he let that family down.

I’ve always figured the royals were the UK’s version of The Jersey Shore.

What exactly is Trump hiding in his tax returns?

He has just asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether he should release his returns. I find this mystifying. Sure, everyone has a right to privacy — if I were asked to hand over my tax information to some random person, I’d resist on principle, but if I were given a subpoena and told to hand them over to authorities, I’d comply. I gave them to the IRS, after all.

This zealous refusal is peculiar and excessive, which makes me even more curious about what’s in there. There are two alternatives: 1) his tax returns are scrupulously honest and accurate, but he finds the truth embarrassing, so embarrassing that he would risk his reputation, low as it is, to hide them. Or 2) he lied, and they contain so much irresistible bait for investigative journalism that he fears he’ll be in legal jeopardy if they’re exposed.

I’m inclined to believe there are skeletons in there.

His defense is that a ruling against him would open the doors to all kinds of legal shenanigans against the presidency, although that’s never harmed a president before, and that he is above the law and gets to do whatever he wants while in office. That’s worrisome: he has incentive to never give up the presidency, and when he is expelled in 2020 or, dog forbid, in 2024, he’s going to fight like hell against the law.

What billionaires actually do

They wreck people’s lives. One of them, Joe Ricketts, has written a memoir in which he is actually proud of his crimes. He made his fortune exploiting deregulation of financial markets, and then he dedicated his retirement to union-busting and tearing down journalism because it wasn’t “profitable” to him.

On November 2, 2017, many journalists witnessed an especially egregious version of the same scene, when Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade and the owner of the Chicago Cubs, abruptly laid off the entire staff of Gothamist and DNAinfo, two networks of local news websites he had recently merged. He also shuttered both networks, replacing tens of thousands of articles with a letter justifying his decision. “DNAinfo is, at the end of the day, a business, and businesses need to be economically successful if they are to endure,” he wrote. “And while we made important progress toward building DNAinfo into a successful business, in the end, that progress hasn’t been sufficient to support the tremendous effort and expense needed to produce the type of journalism on which the company was founded.”

Lies, lies, lies. Read the whole article to get the full picture: he shut it down because the journalists, who were paid a pittance especially compared to the billions he was squatting on, tried to unionize to get better working conditions and fair pay.

But even worse, that’s an indictment of short-sighted capitalism, which sees everything as a business that must make a profit. Journalism has no purpose other than to make a profit…and not a profit for the journalist, but for the fat cat who owns the newspaper. I am in a “business”, education, which is not done for some crass quantity of dollars, but to make our citizens better informed, better able to deal with the world, better people, just as journalism should be, and I’m proud of that. But you tell people like this Ricketts asshole that you’re not into skimming cash from the pockets of people who need it, but in providing a service in expectation of nothing more than reasonable compensation and a living wage, and they see you as a sucker and your work as meaningless. All they can see is dollar signs, and professions like journalism and education don’t light up their eyes.

Sadly, Ricketts will never realize what a leech he is. He has adopted an American myth as his own.

The story Ricketts tells about himself is just the latest riff on a familiar American fable, in which an unremarkable person — ideally, a white guy from Nebraska or thereabouts — achieves wealth and success by working hard, never complaining, and seizing opportunities. Even assuming this story is true as far as Ricketts is concerned, it ignores the millions of people who tried to follow the same path and failed, and by extension, the absurd randomness that dictates that a guy like Ricketts should be able to sabotage dozens of careers on a mean-spirited whim. To whatever limited extent Ricketts is representative of his upwardly mobile generation, the source of his prosperity — the deregulation of capital since the 1970s — has almost completely destroyed the prospect of upward mobility for the generations that follow. Of course, none of the Ricketts kids will have to worry about that.

The worship of billionaires has become our shittiest religion.

Every billionaire is thus more than a simple failure of policy. Every billionaire is evidence of a basic glitch in the fabric of the moral universe: their lives, and acts, ring out with the gospel that only what we call evil will be rewarded — that the selfish get to live as angels, and all good people will be damned. Challenging capitalism also means challenging its religion.

Every time I criticize these parasites, whether it’s Bezos, or Musk, or Gates, or Ricketts, I know people will crawl out of the woodwork to complain that I shouldn’t say that, because they’ve all earned their wealth, and if we remove the incentives to suck up huge amounts of money, how will we get our flying cars or our Mars colony or convenient ATMs with big fees? Don’t care. Wake up.

Did anyone see this movie?


In late October, Dennis Prager and Adam Corolla, intellectual heavyweights in the sense that their crania are denser than lead, released No Safe Spaces, an entire movie whining about how comedians can’t make gay jokes any more and how conservatives are being “cancelled” everywhere. It did not appear at any theater near me, and seemed to sink without a trace.

I did find a Fox News headline bragging about it, ‘No Safe Spaces’ sees massive box office haul, praise that was qualified by the next few words, on just 1 screen. Yeah, it was shown at one theater in Phoenix, Arizona, and presumably they bussed in a bunch of Fox News watching retirees to see it so they’d have a blockbuster weekend with a whole $45,000 in revenue. It also means most of the reviews on IMDB are good — it got 8.6 stars out of 10.

It features a lot of interviews with the usual third-rate conservative faces, like Dave Rubin and Jordan Peterson, and of course the fourth-rate wackaloons, Prager and Corolla. Despite the low wattage and volunteer contributions of the “stars”, I doubt that this movie broke even. Dennis Prager might think he’s a charismatic box office draw, sitting in an easy chair and puffing on a cigar, and Corolla might imagine he’s still in his glory days of the 90s when MTV would pay him to be crude and sexist, but the sight of either of them would tell me to skip the movie, it’s not even going to be fun to mock.

It also got me thinking, though. The Right preaches the gospel of capitalism and the profit motive, yet to persuade the public that their cause is just, they rely on shadowy sugar daddies to pay for their loss-leading movies and think tanks; the Invisible Hand is constantly slapping them down and telling the world how much they suck. Meanwhile, the Left knows that few billionaires are going to prop up their propaganda, and they have to rely on popular support to defy the absence of Big Money support they can get. Isn’t this backwards? In a truly capitalist society, shouldn’t this dreck just die of starvation?

Hey, John Oliver, do Richard Carrier next

This is painfully familiar.

You know what hurt the most? When Oliver mentioned how much HBO and their insurance company had to pay to defend themselves against Bob Murray’s vindictive SLAPP suit…and I realized our legal costs are right now approaching that same value. Except we aren’t a major corporation.

If you can, donate to our fundraiser.

If you can’t do that, join me in saying, “Eat shit, Richard Carrier.”

I would pay good money to see a cage match with Nick Fuentes and Charlie Kirk

In this corner, the man with the shrinking face, the demagogue of Turning Point USA, money man for Libertarian sophomores everywhere, Charlie Kirk!

And here in this corner, the up-and-coming racist with the Hispanic name, Nick Fuentes, founder of America First, who doesn’t even realize the historical taint of that name!

We can always hope for a Kilkenny Cats resolution to the combat.

Anyway, what triggered this fantasy is learning that a book event for Donald Trump Jr.’s new work of fiction was met with a hostile audience, and Junior was booed by the crowd. It opened with some smug snideness about the left.

At the Sunday event, Trump Jr. appeared to think the first shouts of dissent had come from left-leaning counterprotesters.

“Name a time when conservatives have disrupted even the furthest leftist on a college campus,” he said to the crowd. “It doesn’t happen that way. We’re willing to listen.”

Only, as it turns out, it wasn’t a riotous mob of antifa/Sanders supporters screaming at the event.

Fuentes, 21, appeared to take credit for the protests on Sunday evening, tweeting that he and his followers don’t disagree with Trump Jr. Instead, he said their complaint was with Turning Point USA. On Sunday, he shared dozens of tweets celebrating the event’s shutdown and denigrating Turning Point USA.

“Our problem is not with [Trump Jr.] who is a patriot — We are supporters of his father!” he tweeted. “Our problem is with Charlie Kirk’s TPUSA organization that SHUTS DOWN and SMEARS socially conservative Christians and supporters of President Trump’s agenda. We are AMERICA FIRST!”

The host of an ultraconservative podcast and YouTube show called “America First,” Fuentes has appeared on YouTube with bloggers who advocate for a white ethnostate. He has used slurs and promoted anti-Semitism in his broadcasts, which has put him at odds with Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro. Fuentes marched in Charlottesville with white supremacists during the deadly Unite the Right rally in 2017, the Boston Globe reported.

For weeks, Fuentes has been railing against Turning Point USA, which once invited him to speak at Iowa State University, and the more mainstream wing of the pro-Trump movement. On Nov. 4, he directed his fans to show up to Turning Point USA events and heckle speakers during question-and-answer segments. The 21-year-old’s fans have been harassing Kirk at several recent Turning Point USA events on college campuses.

Oh, yeah. Charlie Kirk and Nick Fuentes hate each other with an abiding passion. FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT! These two horrible people are nearly totally indistinguishable to me, and they deserve each other. Please, please, please, can all the Trump supporters annihilate each other in a savage battle over who loves the Donald the bestest and who is the truest conservative?

In case you ever doubted that Uber was evil

I never doubted it, but now the CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, confirms it for us all. He was asked about the fact that Saudi Arabia was the 5th largest shareholder and that a Saudi representative has a seat on their board, and then asked whether that was appropriate, since they’d murdered an American reporter, Jamal Khashoggi. Khosrowshahi made an amazing excuse.

I think that that government said that they made a mistake. It’s a serious mistake. We’ve made mistakes, too, with self-driving and we stopped driving and we’re recovering from that mistake. People make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they’ve taken it seriously.

If you’ve forgotten, Jamal Khashoggi was a dissident who was murdered by agents of crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. He was tortured and dismembered and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul about a year ago.

Whoopsie. Just a little mistake.

I don’t know whether Uber is trying to confess that their “mistake” with self-driving cars that killed a pedestrian was equivalent to willfully sending thugs with bone-saws to hack someone to death, or whether he thinks that team of 15 Saudi hit-men who dragged Khashoggi into a room accidentally tortured him, accidentally slipped with a saw and accidentally chopped off his arms and legs, accidentally cleaned up the resultant mess, and accidentally lied for weeks about what had happened. I wonder if he thinks their atrocities in Yemen are also accidents?

That Uber has such a flexible definition of “accident” would worry me if I relied on their service.

Don’t worry, though. Khosrowshahi afterwards called up the reporters to say he misspoke, he didn’t mean to reveal what he really thought of Saudi assassins. It was an accident.

Mayor Pete can go away now

I was never a Buttigieg fan — in fact, I was totally baffled by what anyone saw in the guy. He’s a bland middle-of-the-road centrist with no particularly striking qualifications to be president, so I never gave him a second thought. But he’s getting support from somewhere, and it seems to be the usual shadowy cabal of wealthy people who want a Stepford candidate who will look nice on a stage but won’t actually rock any boats.

Some people troubled themselves to look into his background though, and here’s a great example of what they find. He’s an establishment candidate. The powers-that-be know that that faint smoky smell in the air is revolution simmering in the electorate, so they threw their influence behind the harmless nobody from nowhere. The article gets more and more fired up and starts erupting with sentiments I find copacetic. I like this:

Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it. I want to vehemently oppose those people, and guess what? I live in a country where I’m free to do that. I don’t like being told I’m out of line for doing so. So you’ll excuse me if I’m not exactly inspired by some South Bend pud who has no stomach for that fight, and doesn’t want me to have it either.

Pledging to sow unity is just a pledge to people that you will do nothing, that you are a bland centrist determined to paint widely approved progressive ideas like M4A as divisive in a brazen attempt to cultivate irrational hostility toward them. THAT is being divisive. That is what Big Pharma is paying Buttigieg to do.

Mayor Pete never had my vote and isn’t going to get it. I’ll be favoring Warren in the Minnesota primary, unless my wife persuades me to back Sanders. Running dog lackeys of the capitalist ruling class do not stand a chance.