Thursday, September 23, 2021

Scamworld & politix: Eric Trump set to join alt-health/conspiranoid scammers in Nashville in October

 


In yet another example of Scamworld and US politix partying together, there's going to be an alt-health conference in Nashville October 22-24, 2021: The Truth [sic] About Cancer Live! convention. The event's anti-vax agenda is pretty blatant, but nearly as obvious is the right-wing political mission, as evidenced by the fact that one of the top-billed keynoters is none other than Eric Trump. And the conference organizers themselves are notorious perpetrators of The Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election. The upcoming event is not only a menace to public health, due to misinformation in the service of scamming, but it is also part of a disturbing trend of alliances that are endangering American democracy.

The media -- well, at least some of them -- have been abuzz with news that #NeverWasMyPresident Donald John Trump's middle and stupidest son, Eric, will be a keynote speaker at an alt-health (translation: anti-vax) event in Nashville in October. From The Daily Beast:

Trump is set to speak at the Truth About Cancer Live! convention between Oct. 22 and 24 in Nashville, joining a speakers’ lineup that includes some of the most prominent promoters of disinformation about vaccines, as well as leading figures in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

The conference is the brainchild of Ty and Charlene Bollinger, two major promoters of anti-vaccine disinformation who have
made tens of millions of dollars promoting both alternative health cures for cancer and vaccine fears. The Bollingers have dubbed the coronavirus vaccine “that abominable vaccine,” according to a Center for Public Integrity report, and sell a $200 video series promoting vaccine fearmongering on their website.

The promoters of TTAC Live '21 are using every cheesy, cliched marketing trick in the book, including "false scarcity," to push this (likely super-spreader) event.

Silver & Gold Tickets Are Sold Out
Bronze Tickets Now On Sale - Save $100

The "gold tickets" were supposedly $997, and the "silver tickets" $497 -- but if you act now, you can get a "bronze ticket" for the low, low price of only $197 (marked down from $297)! Heck of a deal.

At any rate, most of the reporting I've seen on this event puts the news about Eric Trump's scheduled keynote in the same bizarro category as
Daddy Trump's (virtual) appearance at a recent Moonie cult conference on the 20th anniversary of September 11. Be that as it may, Eric, who claims that he himself is vaccinated, poo-poos the idea that the event at which he'll be featured is in any way anti-vaccine.

Trump confirmed his scheduled speech in an email to The Daily Beast.

“I am not there to talk about vaccines,” Trump wrote. “I am in Nashville to talk about the accomplishments of the 45th President of the United States.”

Trump disputed the idea that the conference is “anti-vaccine,” pointing to his vaccinated status.

“As to labeling something an anti-vaccine event, it wouldn’t make much sense for me to attend as a vaccinated person if it was,” Trump wrote.

Well, as anyone with even rudimentary observational skills knows by now, little Eric is not exactly the brightest tiki torch in the white supremacist march. He most likely wouldn't know an anti-vax agenda if it crashed through his window at night and sat on his smug little rodent face (no offense intended to rodents) while Lara watched in feigned shock and reached for her Kiki de Montparnasse Etoile Bullet Vibe. (Look it up; I'm not going to provide a link.)

Face it: the
TTAC '21 web site makes its anti-vax (and anti-mask) agenda pretty clear just by its speaker lineup. Several of the scheduled speakers at TTAC, including Sheri Tenpenny and Erin "The Health Nut" Elizabeth, not to mention the Bollingers themselves, are part of the "Disinformation Dozen" who earlier this year were reported as producing 65 percent of the misleading claims and outright lies about COVID-19 vaccines on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They make the anti-vax part of the conference agenda as glaringly obvious as Donald Trump's fake tan.

As with other media outlets reporting on the event, The Daily Beast mentioned several of these speakers in passing.

Other anti-vaccine speakers at the event [besides Eric Trump] include Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Andrew Wakefield, the author of a vaccination with retracted study linking vaccination with autism—a claim repeated by former President Trump on multiple occasions. Judy Mikovits, who went viral in the summer of 2020 as the star of the “Plandemic” coronavirus disinformation video and has falsely claimed as many as 50 million Americans could be killed by the vaccine, is also scheduled to speak. In promotional copy for tickets to the convention, which range in price from $197 to $997, the Bollingers promise the event will reveal “the truth about vaccines.”

...Edward Group and
Mike Adams, two alternative health personalities who have been regulars on conspiracy theory hub InfoWars, are giving speeches as well. Trump adviser Roger Stone is also giving a speech.

(I mentioned Judy Mikovits and her Plandemic "documentary" in a May 2020 post about serial scammer Kevin Trudeau's enablers continuing to push COVID-19 conspiracy tales.)

Notably absent from the lineup, I feel compelled to mention, is fake doctor/cancer quack/scammer/(alleged) predator/neo-Nazi/Trump fan
Leonard Coldwell, who for several years was a staple at similar alt-health events. More than likely it's because Lenny, despite his nonstop griping about vaccines and Big Pharma and whatnot, has become too irrelevant and insignificant to include in a big-name event.

But I digress. Notwithstanding the blatant anti-vax mission reflected in the speaker lineup, I'd say that Eric Trump is probably on the level about his personal motives for being a keynoter at this scamapalooza. His presence at TTAC as a spokes-doofus for Daddy's "achievements" actually makes perfect sense when you take a closer look at several of the speakers -- I mean, apart from the excruciatingly obvious inclusion of Roger Stone. (For that matter, DaddyT's appearance at the Moonie conference makes sense too, when you consider the rabid right-wing politix of the Unification Church.)

Regarding certain speakers at the TTAC conference: take alt-health "expert" and professional fear-monger Mike "The Health Ranger" (please). If you've been following this blog for a few years, you know
I've written about Adams several times. And if you've been a reader during the lamentable Error of Trump, you almost certainly know that Adams has paraded himself as a staunch and downright fanatical supporter of Trump and Trumpism. On more than one occasion during the Trump "presidency," he advocated Trump imposing martial law in the US -- and committing other authoritarian acts that would make any old-school dictator proud -- in order to destroy "the left" and recreate America in the image of the neo-fascist wet dream. So there's that.

An even more blatant political connection lies in the organizers of the conference, Ty and Charlene Bollinger. From the Wikipedia entry, which cites external sources:

Bollinger spoke at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Nashville on November 14, 2020, repeating accusations of election fraud.[25]...

...
[Ty and Charlene Bollinger] played a significant role in organizing the pro-Trump demonstrations that culminated in a
riot at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.[31] They coordinated with leaders of the Stop the Steal movement to bring their supporters to the demonstrations. They introduced speakers to their crowd of supporters and according to Darlene, Ty joined the demonstration outside the Capitol; both afterward condemned the violence that took place at the event.[10][32][4] The Bollingers have been using QAnon hashtags in 2020 and promoted some of the movement's common conspiracy theories.[21]

To its credit, the Daily Beast article I linked to above does mention the Bollingers' contributions to the January 6 riots.

Along with their anti-vaccine activism, the Bollingers have faced criticism for a rally they organized just blocks from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. During the event, Charlene Bollinger praised the rioters attacking Congress.

“We pray for the patriots that are there now inside,” Charlene Bollinger said during the event. “They’re trying to get inside that Capitol.”

In case it isn't painfully obvious after my characteristic belaboring of the point: Eric Trump's status as not just a keynote speaker, but the keynoter -- the one who gets top billing along with conference organizers/founders Ty and Charlene Bollinger -- shouldn't be surprising to anyone who's been paying attention. But it is another big red flag, on at least two levels.

First, Eric Trump is obviously a selling point for the conference, and it can't be overstated that, politics aside, the organizers' alt-health agenda is doing measurable damage to public health. Alejandro Ramirez, writing
in an article today on the Nashville Scene web site, really gets it.

It’s easy to point at the health care hucksters and laugh, but as several proverbs suggest, comedy and tragedy are often linked. In this case, they aren’t just preying on wealthy science-deniers but also desperate people who are looking for anything to help them or their loved ones survive. We’re talking about vulnerable people, physically and financially.

Secondly, Eric Trump (and Roger Stone) being featured as keynoters at an alleged natural-health conference is an indication of a continuing and growing trend of alliances between factions that not only care far more about their own power, wealth, and egos than they do about the well-being of the people to whom they so relentlessly pander, but who are also endangering American democracy with their cynical lies.

And that's no laughing matter.

PS. Wead it and reap, redux
In other Scamworld-meets-politix news,
two GOP operatives have been charged with funneling Russian money to the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016. One of the indicted guys, Doug Wead, is a Trump sycophant and selfish-help huckster whom I have written about on my blog, most recently in Nov 2019.

 

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

There is a bomb in Gilead: SCOTUS advances Texas' mission to become real-life Handmaid's Tale

 

It's September, and a brutally restrictive abortion law is just the tip of the iceberg as the Christo-fascists advance their regressive agenda. Also taking effect September 1 are laws making it far easier to brandish a gun anywhere (whether or not one has a license or any sort of gun safety training), and voter legislation designed to disenfranchise people of color and anyone else likely to vote Democratic. But as Texas goes, so goes the nation, so don't kid yourself that this is just Lone Star lunacy.

In Margaret Atwood's classic 1985 dystopian novel
The Handmaid's Tale (which has also been adapted as a movie, a radio presentation, a stage play and now an ongoing streaming series), much of the continental United States has been taken over by a totalitarian, theocratic regime. A big chunk of the Northeast portion of the former US has become the Republic of Gilead, and in Gilead, women are relegated to subordinate roles; they are not allowed to read, vote, have a job, or own possessions... and forget anything remotely resembling reproductive freedom. Women known as Handmaids are forced to have sex with their "Commanders" in order to provide children for them and the infertile Wives.

The Handmaid's Tale has been invoked every time there has been a setback in abortion rights in the United States, with pro-choice advocates warning that the U.S. is becoming more and more like the fictional Gilead. All too often life does indeed imitate art: as of today -- September 1, 2021 -- Texas seems to be the front runner in the race to transform into Gilead. The Supreme Court of the United States has opted to let an oppressive state law take effect that bans all abortions after six weeks -- long before many women even know they are pregnant -- because that has been decreed the time when a fetal heartbeat can be detected by a doctor. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.

Even more alarming, the bill will allow private citizens to sue anyone involved in helping a woman get an abortion past six weeks, without having to demonstrate any personal connection whatsoever to the woman or the situation.


In other words, there is a bomb in Gilead* -- and unless it is defused, it’s going to blow
Roe v Wade, the 1973 SCOTUS decision that legalized abortion nationwide, to smithereens. From Politico:

Beyond outlawing abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the Texas law, signed in May, would deputize citizens to file civil suits against abortion providers or anyone who helps facilitate the procedure after six weeks, such as a person who drives a pregnant person to the clinic. Individuals found to have violated the law would have to pay $10,000 to the person who successfully brings such a suit — a bounty abortion rights advocates warn will encourage harassment, intimidation and vigilantism.

To say the least. For a more detailed look at the probable effects of the new law, see this Axios summary.

This forced-birth legislation has been brought to you by the same thugs who have been screaming that mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates are government overreach and a dangerous threat to medical privacy and individual freedom. Indeed, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (who
tested positive himself for COVID recently) has been at the forefront of the rethuglican movement to quash even the most basic COVID safety measures. Earlier in the summer he issued an executive order banning all mask mandates (though the ban is being fought on several fronts), and in late August he performed the same dark magic on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, regardless of whether the vaccines in question have full FDA approval. Clearly, in the eyes of the GQP, principles of freedom and privacy only apply to those on the "right" side of the culture wars.

Advocacy media such as Ms. Magazine have pointed to
the option of ordering abortion pills online. But given the outrageous overreach of the Texas law, it'll be only a matter of time before the forced-birth fascists find a way to prosecute sellers and buyers. In fact they're already working on it, according to the Politico article I linked to above (here's that link again):

And while abortion rights advocates have touted the recent ability to dispense abortion pills via telemedicine and by mail as a way for people in conservative states to evade mounting restrictions on the procedure, the state on Tuesday also sent a ban on mail delivery of the pills to the governor's desk.

So there's that.

Pistol-packin' putzes
If the forced-birth law was the only regressive measure to worry about in Texas it would be bad enough, but wait... there's more! Those "pro-life" bounty hunters and vigilantes will no doubt find it much easier to intimidate pregnant people and healthcare providers with weapons, since
a slew of new gun laws are in effect in Texas as of September 1. There'll be guns aplenty -- well, in Texas there always were, but now there will be even more, and now you don't even need special training or licensing in order to openly tote a firearm just about anywhere. All you need is a "clean record" (whatever that means, exactly). The new pile of gun laws are a reflection of Guv'ner Greg Abbott's mission to make Texas a "Second Amendment sanctuary state."

It's not that there wasn't a valiant effort to put the reins on this firearms frenzy. Even (or especially) law enforcement agencies, normally pretty conservative, have spoken out against "constitutional carry," but to no avail. From the Houston Public Media piece I linked to in the previous paragraph:

Many Democratic leaders and gun safety advocates hoped the 2021 session would result in more laws aimed at gun violence prevention. It was the first time lawmakers convened since the 2019 shootings in El Paso and Odessa.

In the aftermath of those attacks, some of the state's top Republican leaders — including Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — signaled an openness to change and voiced concerns about private, "stranger-to-stranger" gun sales that don't require background checks.

However, legislation aimed at closing the background check loophole didn't make it out of session, and most bills filed in response to the mass shootings never landed on the governor's desk.

Of course they didn't. Gun safety laws with teeth would be a stain on the long, proud tradition of Texas exceptionalism (Texceptionalism?).

Taking the battle to the ballot box
Okay... so at least maybe there's a chance of voting some of the forced-birth, firearms-fancying fascists out of office, right? Don't count on it; the rethuglicans have also been hard at work on new voter suppression legislation in Texas, and so far they've been successful. Under the guise of "election integrity," and despite
stalwart Texas Democratic legislators who tried to stop it, the rethuglicans are doing absolutely everything they can to disenfranchise people of color and anyone else who is likely to vote Democratic. Their motives couldn't be more transparent.

[Texas] Republicans’ clear goal is to prevent the state’s changing demographics from leading to a shift in political power for as long as possible. The GOP doesn’t need to have the support of a majority of the state’s population if it skews the composition of the electorate to win a majority of votes. As the state becomes younger, more diverse, and more Democratic, power remains concentrated in the hands of politicians who represent constituencies that are whiter, older, more rural, and more conservative than the state as a whole...

...That’s why the new law surgically targets the
voting methods that proved most popular among voters of color in large urban areas like Houston’s Harris County in 2020.

It eliminates innovative voting methods set up by Harris County, such as drive-thru voting and extended early voting hours, that were disproportionately used by
voters of color during the presidential election.

After
mail voting increased across the country in 2020 among communities of color, who favored Joe Biden, the law bans mail ballot drop boxes and makes it a felony for election officials to distribute unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

As well, the law significantly expands access for partisan poll watchers, giving them "free movement" inside a polling place while subjecting election workers to criminal penalties for removing them. Viewed in the context of GOP operatives having pledged to recruit an "army" of poll watchers in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Houston, the motive behind this provision of the law is painfully clear.

In addition to all of that, the law requires monthly "citizenship check" of voter rolls, which is very likely to lead to unfounded voter purges -- like a failed 2019 attempt to
delete the registrations of 100,000 overwhelmingly Latino voters, whom the state claimed were noncitizens but turned out to be naturalized US citizens.

If you want to know more about the astounding sweep of new legislation that took effect in Texas September 1, here's a little something straight from the horse's ass. It's a press release on the gov.texas.gov web site listing the highlights of the legislature's accomplishments and providing a link to a full list of new laws. You'll notice, of course, quite a few laws that provide special protection to guns and gun manufacturers and gun nuts, and several protecting fetuses (including a separate bill that will outlaw all abortion in Texas "after Roe v Wade is overturned" (not if, but after).

There's also a law prohibiting "camping in public spaces," offering reinforcement to the time-honored practice of crapping on homeless people, and there are several laws to punish cities that try to "defund the police." And of course there's a law banning the teaching of "critical race theory," though almost none of the pearl clutchers who are so adamantly against it have any idea what CRT actually is. If you click on the link to the complete list, you'll immediately see that the exact number of bills is... 666.
Mark of the Beast, anyone?


All is not lost... not yet, anyway.
Clearly the Texas Taliban, or Christian Caliphate if you prefer, is fighting fiercely to maintain supremacy in the Lone Star State. What's sad is that progressives in other states seem hell-bent on abandoning us. Fortunately many others are supporting us in the fight to bring Texas into the twenty-first century, recognizing that, as one person on a thread I've been following on Twitter wrote, "Texas is the canary in the coal mine, not some external enemy. California could be next (hello. recall?) Economic vitality has turned Texas into an essentially purple state. We need to overcome voter suppression. Help turn Texas blue!!"

Yeah, what that person said.


I haven't given up on everything yet, or really on anything. I'm plenty angry about what's happening in my state, but I still have enough faith in the system to believe that people who care about progress and justice and equality can yet make a difference. The Christo-fascists haven't completely won yet, and there's still a chance of preventing Texas and the rest of the nation from turning into Gilead. There are still opportunities to defuse the (metaphorical) bomb -- or, alternatively, to ensure that it (metaphorically) blows up in the faces of those who set it -- and by that, of course, I simply mean that we must ensure that the architects of the reprehensible laws pay politically. In states like Texas, defeating this shrill minority is very much an uphill battle, but it's also very much a battle worth fighting.
* Apologies to those who are fans of the old hymn.

PS added on Sept. 2, 2021: President Biden has spoken out against the draconian Texas abortion law.

PPS added on Sept. 3, 2021: In this Houston Press piece, Jef Rouner nails it re the true origins of the "pro-life" movement in America, as well as the decades of gaslighting by republicans about everything from abortion to race to election fraud.

PPPS added on Sept. 7, 2021: Here's Jef again, explaining why it's wrong to invoke the Taliban when discussing this whole Texmess, since this is all on "Christians." He's right, of course. (Mea culpa.)

Friday, August 27, 2021

Covidiocy continues: Canadian crackpot, COVID camps, Carlson claptrap

A year ago, I would never have dreamed that in August of 2021 I would still be blogging about the COVID-19 pandemic, and I'm pretty sure that thousands of working journos and pundits in the "legitimate" media didn't think they would still be reporting and commenting on it... yet here we are. I am far from the first or the only or the best to observe that the plagues of misinformation, conspiracy narratives, anti-vax hysteria, and dangerous (right-wing) politicizing surrounding COVID-19 are posing as much of a threat to our individual and collective well-being as the virus itself -- and in fact are directly contributing to making the virus more... well... virulent. That point can't be emphasized enough.

Some of the hucksters I've written about over the years have participated enthusiastically in the misinfo campaign, such as serial scammer
Kevin Trudeau, whose contributions to the con-versation (emphasis on the first syllable) I wrote about at some length here and here last year. Another peddler of pandemic piffle, much lesser-known and far stupider than Trudeau, is one of his former grift-buddies, cancer quack/fraudster/anti-vaxxer/neo-Nazi Leonard Coldwell. Trudeau, still serving out a ten-year prison sentence and faced with restrictions to his online activity, has spread his COVID lies through proxies, but Coldwell apparently posts his own content.

A Facebook friend of mine recently expressed concern about the lies that Coldwell has been posting on his main Facebook page, regarding COVID concentration camps, microchips in vaccines, and whatnot. While COVID-19 may be relatively recent, the Facebook falsehoods problem is not new: for years Coldwell has been using social media to spread anti-vax lies, "alternative" health misinformation (especially about cancer), conspiracy tall tales, and the like. When COVID-19 emerged in early 2020,
he jumped right into the deep end of the covidiocy pool.

That's really no surprise; the surprise would have been if he had passed on such a golden opportunity to spread his toxins. But my friend seemed to be really fed up with the continual flow of sludge from Coldwell's Facebook page, and wondered if it would be possible to get him permanently removed from that platform.

No doubt many have tried to do just that -- not me, believe it or not; I only reported Coldwell to Facebook a couple of times when he was posting things
that directly endangered me, and once when he was publicly and falsely accusing an ally of mine of being a child rapist. All of that took place years ago. As I've been saying for years, for the most part I'm content to let people make assholes of themselves in public. It gives me something to snark about here, and I don't have to search very hard for material. Lazy bloggers like me like having easy pickin's.

But others have reported Coldwell at various times over the years, mostly for hate speech, and no doubt at least some of those folks have urged Facebook to permanently ban him. Yet the most that has happened so far has been that Facebook suspends him for 30 days...and he whines about it on his other forums (claiming Facebook has “banned” him only because he isn’t afraid to tell “the truth”)... and then he uses that as the hook to get more people to sign up for his "exclusive information" that he promises is absolutely life-changing and possibly lifesaving and that you cannot find anywhere else, but which is almost always recycled rubbish that you actually see everywhere these days.

The suspension/whinefest/reinstatement cycle has occurred again and again and again with Coldwell.
I wrote about it back in May of 2016, but it's happened numerous times since then.

My normally laissez-faire attitude to public discourse notwithstanding, however, I find the new COVID-19 surges due to
the Delta variant alarming. And I share my friend's concerns about the effects, whether direct or indirect, of COVID lies and misinformation posted by Coldwell and a host of other cranks. What I worry about are not just the effects these lies and rumors have on the course of the pandemic and public health, but also on the future of critical thinking and rational discourse.

Oh, Canada!
A couple of Coldwell's recent COVID offerings stood out for me. The first one occurred
earlier this month when he posted a link on his Facebook page to a video on BitChute, which is sort of an online refugee camp for conspiranoid nutcakes and far-right hate-speechers who were booted off of YouTube. Or maybe "toxic waste dump" would be a better description than "refugee camp." My apologies to refugees.

The video to which Loony Lenny linked
is about an Alberta, Canada man named Patrick King, who'd apparently ended up in court after being fined for not wearing a mask. Coldwell didn't make any comment on his own post; he merely posted the link to the vid, which bears the teaser headline, "YUGE!!! Canadian Court Victory Proves Covid-19 Is A Hoax & All Restrictions Have Now Been Dropped." Here's the blurb on the BitChute page, complete with typos and spelling and grammatical errors:

Patriot Patrick King represented himself in court after being fined $1200 dollars for protesting against the Covid-Hoax, he slew the beast and emerged VICTORIOUS. He issued a subpoena to the Provincial Health Minister for proof that the so-called Covid-19 Virus exists, and they were forced to admit that they had no evidence whatsoever. The virus has never been isolated, and thus the government had no legal grounds to impose any of the punishing restrictions they have inflicted on society. Since this shocking confession came to light, the Province has since rescinded all Covid-Restrictions and now officially treats Covid-19 as nothing more than a mild flu! WE WON

King has shown the template to be followed WORLDWIDE. This is what can happen when you are not re-presented by a BAR (British Accredited Registry) Lawyer who's first obligation is to the Corrupted Courts and not their client.

THIS IS HUGE

That's pretty much the gist of the narrative that has appeared all over the right-wing/COVID-is-a-hoax looniverse, and it's no surprise that, as is the case with most covidiocies, Coldwell is far from the only person to spread this one. I've seen it in numerous other places myself -- even, I'm sad to say, on a forum that once upon a time, before the Age of Trump, was in sync with this Whirled, particularly on matters regarding Coldwell's general idiocy. Those were the days, my friend.

To my pal who was concerned about Facebook letting people like Coldwell continue to rant, I pointed out that one encouraging sign is that Facebook has become more vigilant about flagging misleading or false posts, and explaining why they are flagged, while providing links to correct info. I noted that maybe this is the best course; they leave the posts up so the potential martyrs can’t whine about being “censored” (as
right-wing ranters are wont to do), but readers have easy access to correct information. And even if the true believers refuse to follow the links, it does take some of the wind out of the sails of the original post.

Indeed, Coldwell's post about the Canadian anti-masker was flagged by Facebook as false information, and immediately under the post were these three links:

The headlines reveal the basics, but there's much more detail in the respective articles.

Not surprisingly, Coldwell objected to being corrected, and wrote that the video content he'd shared is 100 percent true.

One small story, one large (and stupid and dangerous) narrative
This whole little Canadian drama would be just another silly story if not for the fact that it provided yet another reinforcement of the (almost exclusively right-wing) narrative that COVID restrictions (masks, vaccines, etc.) are a dire threat to freedom, and that those who flout those restrictions are exemplary heroes who have taken a bold stance against looming tyranny. And you can be assured that this narrative is alive and well, and that there are many Americans who actually believe that the republican governors (e.g., Florida guv Ron DeSantis and Texas guv Greg Abbott) who are working so hard to quash basic COVID safety measures are in fact fighting for the "freedom" of all of us.
Here's one example of this delusion; it's on one Floridian's public Facebook page.

I am amazed at just how many people do not appreciate freedom. [cute little flag icon to demonstrate patriotism]
Our Governor is standing up against big government and so many Floridians can't even grasp that. Just because you don't happen to agree with his current stance just shows that you aren't smart enough to realize it's a lot more than just the current news uproar that he is fighting for.
It's being done in an attempt to preserve YOUR rights and freedoms... That YOU don't even appreciate and are ready to throw away so easily. It would be far easier for him to just "go along"...
Stop being so ungrateful.

I should note that this post is from a former enthusiastic follower of Kevin Trudeau -- one who was eventually convinced by others to see him for the scammer he was and is, but who was not smart enough to see that Leonard Coldwell is actually even worse than Trudeau, and apparently is not savvy enough to understand that politicians such as DeSantis are not motivated by altruism or principle.

I mention Kevin Trudeau again because there are striking parallels between Trudeau's propaganda about being a freedom fighter, and the propaganda of the republican "leaders." For years Trudeau -- and his loyal fans -- have insisted that Kevin has been battling for the rights and freedoms of all of us, when in reality he has only been interested in furthering his own scam agendas. Similarly, republican pols such as Governors DeSantis and Abbott, and even lesser ones such as Texas' dumbest box of rocks, Rep(rehensible) Louie Gohmert, claim to be taking their "bold" stands on COVID in order to stand up for "freedom," with their supporters endlessly and annoyingly echoing those claims. The reality is that the repubs are doing nothing more than pandering to a fairly significant base of misinformed or stupid voters, the public good be damned. They just want to get re-elected. With them, it's all politics.

(Besides, isn't it the height of "big government" for a governor to issue an executive order banning mask and/or vaccine mandates, even if the individual businesses or institutions deem that such mandates are necessary to protect the health and safety of their staff/students/customers? Just wondering.)


The Canada tale is also one more instance of the refusal of COVID deniers to perform even the most rudimentary research before they regurgitate content on their social media or blogs.

This one time, at COVID camp...
Another tale that has the conspiranoid tongues wagging is the "news" that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is plotting to set up COVID "concentration camps" for the unvaccinated or those exposed to COVID. Right-wing rabble-rouser Candace Owens was apparently the one who got this particular balderdash ball rolling,
on Twitter.

Another Facebook friend of mine shared a video about the alleged COVID camps a few days ago on her feed. The teaser/headline was ominous:
"They are coming for us." The source of that video was Rumble, which has also become popular with conspiranoids and haters who were exiled from YouTube. In response to my friend's post I shared a link to a debunking article, and she responded that she just hopes people will do their own research and then make up their own minds, without resorting to calling each other names. (Okay, I'm a name-caller and not ashamed of it, because some names deserve to be called.) To my friend's comment, I responded that while I have a similar wish to hers, people who rely on conspiracy sites to "research" and reinforce their anti-vax convictions are endangering all of us.

It will come as no big shock that
Loony Lenny had to sound the COVID camp alarm too on the blog on his main website. His August 10, 2021 entry, under the category "The War on America," contains an embedded link to yet another Rumble vid, this one from conspiranoid nutcake radio host Stew Peters. The teaser on Coldwell's blog reads:

YOU HAVE TO STAND UP NOW! There is no more time. They are trying to separate vaxxed/unvaxxed and put the unvaxxed in internment camps…………………….DO not be bullied into taking this v a x. It is NOT an immunologic! IT IS intended to kill you.

I hate to piss on the parade of the paranoid... oh, you know I really don't, but anyway, let me let Reuters set the story straight (and this is only for those of you who don't fervently believe that Reuters is part of the big "Them" that are trying to shield us from The Truth and kill us). This is from August 13, 2021:

One Aug. 9 tweet saying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had written a document “to discuss putting high risk people into camps to ‘shield’ low risk people” during the pandemic can be seen here .

Other tweets making similar claims can be seen
here and here .

Posts replicating the claim can also be seen on Instagram (
here) and Facebook (here).

However, this claim is misleading as presented. The document, last updated in July 2020 (during the Trump administration), is a discussion of pandemic approaches for people who already live in “humanitarian settings” such as refugee camps and displaced populations. It is not a strategy relevant to the U.S. general public (
here).

Then there's this, from USA Today on August 17, 2021 (I know, I know, USA Today is yet another corporate media monster, but if you're interested in what the monster has to say, follow the link).

If you need more sources,
help yourself.

Camp, schmamp
I suppose it was inevitable that the conspiranoids would start foaming at the mouth about government camps in America again, now that a Democrat is back in the White House. During the Obama administration, the nutcakes absolutely could not stop talking about
"FEMA camps." Loony Lenny was an enthusiastic promoter of that narrative. Supposedly Obama and FEMA and George Soros and the rest of the usual gang of suspects were plotting to herd Americans into big internment camps, where they would be forcibly vaccinated and microchipped and who knows what else'd. It didn't happen.

They weren't nearly so paranoid during the Trump reign of ruin. They didn't utter a peep when real internment camps became, for all practical purposes, more of a thing than they'd been since World War II, thanks to the cruelty-is-the-point immigration "policies" of Trump and his reincarnated Nazi helper, Stephen Miller. Those camps didn't and don't matter, because they were built for "illegals" who are scarcely human and clearly have no right to be on hallowed American ground.

But now that there's a Democratic president again -- and one who actually seems to care about taking real steps to end a deadly pandemic -- it's time to dust off the "camp" narratives and update them for the times. Deja vu all over again...


Is fact-checking a losing battle?
Despite the time and effort have I put into writing this post, and every other post I've written on these subjects over the years, I am fully aware that fact-checking sites don't faze the conspiranoids and covidiots one bit. In their eyes, the fact-checkers are part of the MSM (mainstream media) or "Them" or the Deep State or the Killuminati and/or whichever other force(s) they imagine are trying to shield us from The Truth. Fact checkers are just there to placate the sheeple, while the awake and aware crowd knows what's really going on.

So much of the misinfo/disinfo industry, which formerly was relegated to the fringe, has become all too mainstream, and particularly in recent years, its products have leeched into American politics, which is the core reason that this formerly apolitical blog has become so political at times. And so much of the misinfo/disinfo is just plain silly or stupid. But silliness and stupidity have consequences, and some of them are dire.

An August 23, 2021 opinion piece on Slate, written by Amanda Marcotte, suggests that much of today's politically-oriented stupidity has become strategically weaponized. Marcotte frames her piece around Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who is one of the main sources of right-wing toxicity these days (and has made no small contribution to COVID-19 misinfo himself). The arguments Carlson makes are maddeningly stupid on purpose, Marcotte asserts, with the goal being to destroy rational discourse itself.

For instance, there's Carlson's assertion that refugees are mainly to blame for the housing crisis in America. Intrepid Media Matters analyst Matt Gertz
quickly debunked that claim, but on Twitter, Gertz acknowledged that "it's fruitless to fact-check a wildly dishonest demagogue like Tucker Carlson." Gertz' pessimism is understandable, Marcotte acknowledged.

The whole incident illustrates one of the most pernicious problems with modern right-wing discourse: stupidity is strategically weaponized. And the strategy is as simple as it is sinister: make arguments so transparently false and silly that it makes people feel stupid for even engaging with you.

Carlson, in particular, is the master at playing dumb. It is a tactic that requires none of the hard work of learning, only shamelessness and a lack of basic morality. Carlson regularly makes claims so preposterous that it's unlikely even the most QAnon-addled conspiracy theorist can take him seriously...

...While deliberate stupidity is, well, stupid, it's also maddeningly effective. Carlson's playing dumb act works primarily as permission to his audience to let go of any lingering attachment to good faith or rationality. He allows them to instead glory in bullshit. After all, asinine arguments that don't make any sense at all drive the liberals up the wall, and nothing matters more than "owning" the liberals. Why bother being correct when you can be glib instead? ...

And actually there's nothing particularly new about this tactic; fascists and Nazis have been using it for decades. Today's right-wingers have found that this time-dishonored strategy works. Concluded Marcotte:

It's why Tucker Carlson's arguments are often transparently stupid, to the point where they self-debunk. He is training an audience in the bad faith that Sartre so eloquently described when he wrote that fascists [specifically anti-Semites, but pretty much the same thing ~ CLS] "delight in acting in bad faith, since they seek not to persuade by sound argument but to intimidate and disconcert." It is what modern people call "gaslighting." It's different than lying because liars are often trying to legitimately deceive people about the truth. This isn't about trying to deceive anyone, so much as it's about taking a hammer to the very idea that words mean things, facts matter, and rationality is important.

The right knows they can't win in a debate based on facts and reason. Instead, they're turning political discourse into a whirlwind of meaningless noise. 

While I am inclined to believe that Leonard Coldwell, various other right-wing ranters, and many of their most loyal followers are, in fact, stupid enough to actually believe many if not most of the lies and bad-faith arguments, the points in the Slate piece are well taken. And whether the spewers of spurious content about COVID-19 (or a "stolen" 2020 election or US withdrawal from Afghanistan or any other burning issue of the day) are genuinely dumb or disingenuously faux-dumb, the effects may be the same, and they're harming all of us.

Nevertheless I believe that it's more important than ever to try to keep hammering away at the nonsense, even if the effort does seem at times to be a losing battle. And one of the ways to do this, if you're so inclined, is to report lies and misinformation to Facebook or other forum hosts when you see them. After all, their bots and human fact checkers can't do it all.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Hot tub slime machine

Last month I wrote about the recent revitalization of a Facebook fan page, as well as other new web content, devoted to previously imprisoned/currently on "home confinement" serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, aka KT, aka Katie on this Whirled. After a hiatus of several months, new content has been appearing on the Facebook fan page, mostly with motivational/inspirational themes centered around Katie's teachings. But the main purpose of the page seems to be to inspire people to send money to help support Kevin, and to motivate them to join what remains of the seekrit club he founded, GIN (the Global Information Network).

I check in on the fan page every few days or so, and
on August 20 this brief post appeared:

How many times have we heard Kevin say 'dream a dream so big it would take ten lifetimes to accomplish'?

Would you like to know how big Kevin's dreams are? Read the vision for 'The Ship':
https://kevintrudeaufanclub.com/the-ship
Read the vision for 'The Club':
https://kevintrudeaufanclub.com/the-club

Well, there are some big problems with this post about big dreams, apart from the fact that Kevin's "vision" for "The Club" is really nothing more than recycled content from the early daze of GIN, when the same lengthy list of lofty goals was presented to members, and aside from the tiny little detail that "The Ship" is creepily Scientology-like. (I discussed both points at some length in this December 2019 Whirled post; see under the sub-head, "Kevin's big dream: life on a cruise ship, and a new club with even less accountability than the old GIN").

To me, the issue with the August 20 fan page post lies not so much with the verbiage, which is pretty much the standard fangirl/fanboy gushing that we've come to expect from this and similar pages, and which was more than likely directed by Kevin himself from the safety of his "home confinement" situation. The real problem is the rub-a-dub-dub-three-men-in-a-hot-tub image accompanying the post. Maybe Kevin himself specifically wanted that pic, or maybe the writer of the post took the liberty of choosing it out of hundreds in the archives. I guess it doesn't matter. But if it was selected with the intent to illustrate the concept of dreaming "a dream so big that it would take ten lifetimes to accomplish," it fails on several levels.

To begin with, and let's just get this out of the way first, it's really quite silly. It's also a very old pic -- ancient, in Internet time. Although when I first published this post I wrote that I did not know exactly how old the picture is, but that I knew it had to be before 2005, someone in a very good position to know has since informed me that it was taken circa New Years 2000 in Sydney, Australia. (In case you're wondering where I got the photo, it's in Kevin Trudeau's Flickr collection, specifically in the "Business As Usual With Kevin Trudeau" album; here's the direct link to the photo. As you'll see if you follow that direct link, the site indicates that the photo was taken on July 15, 2011, but even if the person in the know had not informed me of the correct date, I would have known that it couldn't have possibly been taken that recently. You'll see why in a few moments, if you haven't already guessed.)

And while I speculate that the pic is intended to portray a complacently successful Kevin just chillin' with similarly accomplished buddies in a hot tub on what one can imagine is somebody's luxury yacht, chomping on what one can only assume are outrageously expensive cigars... is that image really the most compellingly seductive depiction of the giddy heights of success that Kevin has been promising to deliver to his followers for decades, if they are only willing to pledge their life savings and their eternal fealty to him? More to the point of this particular post, is it truly representative of Kevin's grand "visions" of "The Ship" and "The Club?"

I will concede that there's a vaguely nautical theme, so while it may be a stretch, I guess you could say that it is suggestive of "The Ship" -- but all in all it seems kind of lame from a materialistic standpoint, while at the same time being hopelessly mundane and even a tad vulgar in light of that whole enlightened-guru image that Kevin and the minions have been flogging for at least a year and a half. I imagine it can be a challenge to market to diverse demographics: spiritual seekers and the conspicuously enlightened as well as greedy or envious materialists and
scammer wannabes. (This is not to say that one can't be both a conspicuously enlightened type and a scammer wannabe, since Scamworld is rife with hyper-materialistic McSpirituality types, but I digress.)

On the other hand, maybe the picture is merely intended to portray something more abstract, such as the simple heartfelt joys of kicking back with good pals, fellow members of an elite group of folks who have Realized Their Dreams. But there's a problem with portraying these particular friends, or at least one of them.

The guy on the right hand side of the photo is Kevin himself, of course, and if you overlook the fact that he's currently serving out a ten-year federal prison sentence, and that his water carriers claim he's utterly penniless and needs you to send him money, I suppose you could say he's successful by the traditional Scamworld definitions of "success" embraced by the shallow, the crass, and the naive.

The bloke in the middle is the UK's
Andrew Malcher of High Street TV, a "multi-channel retail group." He sells stuff, in other words. Lots and lots and lots of stuff, apparently. He was also involved in various ventures that included Kevin Trudeau in the past. Hustle, hustle, hustle.

It's the guy on the left who should make you raise your eyebrows. That would be the late Rene Walter Rivkin, Australia's most notorious insider trader. (If you thought that the worst Oz had to offer in the way of crooks was investment fraudster and star of The Secret (he was the car-park guy) David Schirmer, think again.) It was on Rivkin's boat that the Trudeau hot tub party apparently took place.

For Rivkin, though, the party was most likely on its way to being over even at that time, because his troubles were steadily mounting, resulting in misery to his family as well as to himself. Finally on May Day 2005, at the age of 60, he committed suicide at his elderly mother's home, where he had been living. He had already attempted suicide the previous year and by all accounts was not a happy man at all. And no wonder: he had been battling a shipload of legal problems that resulted in the permanent revocation of his stockbroking license, as well as a slew of health challenges, including benign brain tumors, a gangrenous gall bladder, deep vein thrombosis and bipolar disorder.

I've mentioned Rene Rivkin a couple of times on this Whirled, years ago: in passing in
this September 2013 post, and in a bit more detail in this May 2014 offering (see under the sub-head, "The infomercial wizards of Oz"). In the latter post I linked to a June 2000 piece on Australia's Media Watch site about the infomercial partnership between Kevin and Rene. As co-directors of the Rivkin Group, the two spewed out infomercials together back in the day for Shop America (Australasia), hustling everything from memory techniques and weight loss schemes to Rivkin's own scams, including his stock market report "and other more magical products" targeted to the Australian TV public.

Their go-to technique was the phony interview, geared to make viewers think they were watching actual programming in the style of the then-popular Larry King Live (which of course is no longer a thing, especially since Larry King is dead). Trudeau had gotten himself into a spot of trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for, among other things, using that technique in his infomercials for American audiences, and the FTC required him to tell viewers that his "talk shows" were in fact paid advertisements. In Oz, though, he and his grift-buddy were still able to get by with the ruse, at least for a while, until Australia also passed laws to better protect consumers.

In any case Rivkin was thrilled with Kevin's magic touch, gushing:

From first hand witnessing of Kevin in action, I can tell you he truly is a marketing phenomenon....You may have seen us on TV. The results have been excellent.
(The Rivkin Report, issue 133)

Clearly he didn't care at all about Kevin's criminal "past." In a June 2000 letter to Media Watch, Rivkin wrote:

I am of course aware of [Trudeau's] criminal record...I am also and have always been acutely aware of Mr Trudeau's past...suffice to say I remain of the very strong view that people with criminal records are capable of rehabilitation.

That was then, and there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, with Rivkin ultimately succumbing to his own inner demons and Trudeau going on to create bigger scams and, finally, a bigger prison sentence for himself than he'd accomplished at the time Rivkin knew him.

More recently, in August of 2019, Institutional Investor published a profile on Rene Rivkin by David Wilson,
"The Down Under Scammer You've Probably Never Heard Of." Wilson described Rivkin as Australia's "singularly tragic version" of both mega-fraudster Bernie Madoff (who at the time the piece was published was still alive and was begging #NeverWasMyPresident Trump to commute his 150-year prison sentence) and notorious sex predator/trafficker and Trump buddy Jeffrey Epstein (who had just died in prison of apparent suicide). Wilson wrote that when Rivkin was sentenced to a mere nine months of weekend detention stints, even that relatively lenient sentence was still cause for "national gloating" in Australia; the lead story in the Sydney Morning Herald crowed, "Cell, cell, cell." Had Rivkin not ended his life, Wilson speculated, he might have ended up serving considerably more time.

For one thing, he was also a suspect in a seamy murder case and the recipient of a lavish insurance payout under suspicious circumstances. And he allegedly offloaded stocks that his newsletter, the Rivkin Report, tipped. Last, despite having untold wealth hidden in the Swiss banking system, Rivkin owed the taxman millions. 

His memory still casts a tailored shadow across the Australian investment landscape, because the “guru of greed” was such an epic character: a high-octane, cigar-smoking, Prozac-popping Sydney-sider dubbed “
Australia’s most aggressive broker.” Some even labeled him messianic based on his grandiose claims of persecution, going so far as to compare his criminal conviction to the crucifixion of Jesus. 

I suppose it was only natural for Rene Rivkin to be good buddies with Kevin Trudeau, who has compared his own trials and tribulations to those of Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and other martyrs.

But you know what? Nothing about Rivkin's sad story probably matters at all to Kevin's most loyal minions, who will continue to praise Trudeau as the savior of humanity and a key to making all of their dreams come true. Someone told me years ago that Kevin himself had spoken of Rivkin as a tragic example of skewed values and poor choices. Maybe so, but the fact remains that Kevin Trudeau continues in a multitude of ways to promote many of those same cockeyed values, leading countless followers to make poor choices themselves. For the vast majority, those choices may not result in prison sentences and hopefully not in suicide, but GIN did, by many accounts, leave a trail of empty bank accounts and damaged lives, and call me cynical, but I really don't believe that Katie has changed in any significant way.

Related on this Whirled:

  •  July 2021: Serial scammer Kevin Trudeau: new websites, same old hustle
    I'm adding this link again, though it was embedded above, because the point needs to be emphasized: Trudeau, through various proxies, is begging for money, which the minions claim he could very well earn for himself once he gets out of prison, but (according to their narrative), instead of money-grubbing he intends to devote his life to "serving humanity." Don't buy it.
  • March 2021: El-Ron is dead. Long Live Kevin Trudeau!
    Kevin's big "vision" of "The Ship" didn't just spring up spontaneously. More than likely it's at least partly related to his longtime affection for Scientology (not to mention his desire to get the hell out of US government jurisdiction as soon as he possibly can).
  • December 2020: Spotify series "Fraudsters" tackles Kevin Trudeau in 3 parts
    While it may seem that much of the world has forgotten about Trudeau for the time being, not everyone has. The Spotify series provides a good history of his life of fraud, including the big GIN scam.
  • August 2020: Whiny babies of Scamworld
    When he's not hustling scams and schemes, or waxing wisely McSpiritual, Trudeau is whining about his martyrdom. Of course he's not the only whiner in Scamworld...
  • March 2020: The Lie-land of Dr. Trudeau: Kevin Trudeau joins the ranks of the corona-crapitalists
    Fairly early into the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin Trudeau hopped aboard the misinfo train, dictating "COVID-19 Updates" from prison that were faithfully recorded by the minions on his Facebook fan page and his current main web site. Though Trudeau billed his messages as exclusive information that "they" don't want you to know about and that was available nowhere else, the content was -- you guessed it -- little more than recycled stuff from the conspiranoid slush pile. In this post I go into some detail about the earlier "updates," and if you can stand to wade through it,
    there's also a link to some of Kevin's subsequent covidiocies.
  • January 2020: Kevin Trudeau asks Judge Robert Gettleman for post-prison scam guidance
    Just how much scamming will Kevin legally be able to do once he completes his sentence in either May or July 2022? In early 2020 he wrote a letter to the judge who'd presided over his civil case for many years, asking for guidance. To my knowledge, Judge Gettleman never answered him, but in any case this post contains a link to the original sentencing document, which provides general guidelines on what he will and won't be allowed to do.
  •  December 2019: Saint Kevin Trudeau becomes GuruKev as Facebook clamps down on is "celebrity" page
    Another one I linked to in the main post, but it needs to be emphasized. Expanding his brand as a "spiritual leader," Kevin and his devotees are really pouring it on thick about Kevin being an enlightened master, or some such: a source of wisdom that you just won't find anywhere else. Is he grooming the cult followers, or just cynically exploiting another avenue to material riches? More than likely it's both.
  • January 2015: Kevin Trudeau: an interview from the clink, and an attempt to take Business Insider for a ride
    Despite a few errors and omissions, which I discuss at length in this post, Aaron Gell's portrait of Trudeau for Business Insider remains one of the best and most comprehensive in recent years.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Whirled turns 15 today

 

We haven't had a Quinceañera (fifteenth birthday) celebration on this Whirled in years. The previous gala, in June of 2013, celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of the former Bernd Klein of the Republic of Germany getting his new name, Leonard Coldwell. So actually... it was a Quinceañera for a name, which not only is terribly silly but, I'll acknowledge, is probably also a grievous example of cultural appropriation, for which I hope I may be forgiven. By any name, Bernd/Lenny is one of the stupidest and most evil men that most of the world has never heard of (a man so unimportant that even a blogger whose blog was totally dedicated to his stupidity and evil got bored with him several years ago)... but I digress.

With the current Whirled celebration, I am committing yet another act of cultural appropriation, but for what I think is a much better cause: to commemorate the fifteenth birthday of Whirled Musings, which was launched on July 27, 2006. I've marked the anniversary every year here, sometimes with a brief mention and other times a more extended rumination about the history and purpose of this endeavor. Regarding said history and purpose, I've said pretty much everything that I think needs to be said, and don't feel compelled to say it all again, but for anyone who's curious,
this page 'splains it all.

Being nothing if not redundant, though, I'll repeat a Quinceañera-related anecdote that I published on my June 2013 post, and on Facebook, and probably on other posts here as well. So here we go again.

The Quinceañera -- pronounced KEEN-say-ahn-YEH-ra -- is a lovely tradition, usually held for girls on their fifteenth birthday. It's kind of like a Sweet Sixteen party, but a year early. Marking a young girl's passage into womanhood, it is a time when the honoree is truly a princess-for-a-day. Done properly, a Quinceañera is nearly as elaborate (and expensive) as a wedding, and some girls do choose a white wedding-ish gown for their special day.

In fact, a few months ago at my favorite country auction, there was a Quinceañera doll on the block. More than likely she was intended as a table centerpiece for a Quinceañera party. (Yes, I know I've told this story before on Facebook and possibly here as well, but I'm afraid you'll have to hear it again.) At first I thought the little figure to be a bride doll, because she was decked in a gorgeous white gown. But then I looked at the sash the doll was wearing, which read, "Mis Quince Años." (Mis Quince años (pr. MEES KEEN-say AHN-yos) literally translates to "My Fifteen Years," and is of course a reference to one's fifteenth birthday.)

I thought nothing more about it till much later on when, half asleep, I heard the twangy, Texas-accented voice of the obviously Spanish-impaired auction floor assistant holler out:

"Miss Quint's anus!"

Startled into full wakefulness, I looked up and saw that he was holding the Mis Quince Años doll high up in the air. There were a few shocked faces in the audience; no one who was paying attention knew quite what to make of it. But others, like me, were trying heroically to suppress their mirth. Said the dapper British auctioneer, who was clearly trying to stifle his laughter, "Um, what was that again?"

"Miss Quint's anus!"

A few in the audience tittered. Confused, the poor floor guy said, "Hey, don't blame me. That's what it says on the doll's ribbon!"

Once the confusion was cleared up, the proceedings continued, but alas, there were no buyers for Miss Quint or her anus. I kind of felt sorry for both of them.

That certainly wasn't the first and won't be the last time I write about assholes on this blog, of course.

I want to thank my three or four regular readers for your continued reading over the years, even when I got redundant and obsessive and boring, which is probably more often than even I am willing to admit. I especially want to thank everyone who posted comments over the years, even the ones blasting me for any number of [imaginary] sins. I most especially want to thank those of you who have made monetary donations to this blog. They're always appreciated, even more so now. If you'd like to help Whirled Musings celebrate its fifteenth birthday,
here's a handy link to do just that. Whether you donate or not, thank you for visiting.