Thursday, September 23, 2021

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


Would you like a little fascism with your snake oil? Well then, you're in luck. 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 the top-billed keynoter 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, and who claims to have a 92.3 percent "cancer cure" rate. More than likely the omission is 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, who's billed as a "health freedom advocate" and will apparently be speaking at least a little bit about cancer because his wife had it, but he'll almost certainly also be blathering about how viciously oppressed he has been by the "illegal" Mueller report and the Clintons and liberals and so on, and about how we can "restore" America and personal freedoms. (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 other speakers at the TTAC conference, though: consider alt-health "expert" and professional fear-monger Mike "The Health Ranger" Adams, for example. 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, Jesse Benton, had previously been convicted of multiple campaign fraud offenses, but Trump pardoned him just before leaving office. The other guy, Doug Wead -- and here's where the Scamworld/politix angle comes in -- is a longtime selfish-help huckster and Trump sycophant who authored an ass-kissing book on Trump a couple of years ago. I've written about Wead on my blog, most recently in Nov 2019.

Wead is being represented in the case by two of Trump's former attorneys, Jay Sekulow and Jane Raskin. Commenting on the charges, Sekulow said, “Doug Wead is a respected author and supporter of charitable causes. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will continue to respond appropriately in court.” Well, that should be a load off of all of our minds. Respected authors and supporters of charitable causes are always good guys, right?

But I'm thinking that maybe justice and accountability are not a given in this case, since it has been assigned to Judge Trevor McFadden,
a Trump appointee who donated to Trump's campaign and worked on his presidential transition team. We'll just have to see. 

Related on this Whirled:
Past musings on some of the ways in which Scamworld and US politics intersect. The era of Trump really brought this phenomenon out in the open, since Donald Trump himself has been a Scamworld hustler for decades. As well, some of this blog's most frequent subjects -- most notably, imprisoned (but soon to be released) serial scammer
Kevin Trudeau -- has been a longtime admirer of Donald Trump. Or at least he plays one on the Interwebz.

  • March 2016 -- The devils at the crossroads of politix and Scamworld
    This is the first post in which I really attempted to explore the deepening connection between US politics and Scamworld, as well as the blurring of lines between information and entertainment. I was far from the first to do this, but I think that this post marked a turning point on my blog.
  • May 2016 -- Trump and his Trumpsters: like attracts like
    A closer look at some of the Scamworld luminaries, as well as regular folks, who were and are drawn to Trump.
  • May 2016 --: Donald Trump's Scamworld playbook isn't unique
    My friend and blogging colleague Jason "Salty Droid" Jones was way ahead of me on documenting Trump's Scamworld shenanigans, but this post goes into detail about how "Trump University" was far from unique in the industry.
  • October 2016 -- Back into the black hole of politix...
    Conspiracy fans were and are naturally drawn to Trump, who for several years was the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief, and who is still driving dangerous conspiracy narratives even though he is out of office. Kevin Trudeau has also banked on conspiranoid tales for many years, and many if not most of the people who were and are drawn to him are big believers in Trudeau's message that he knows the secret truth about things that "They" don't want you to know about. In this post I muse about these matters, and about the fact that I apparently lost some "friends" (and readers) when I began blogging against Trump. These were people I'd "met" because they had become disillusioned with Trudeau's scams, and they considered me an ally and supporter. I was puzzled about these lost allies at first, but as I note in the post, the aforementioned Salty Droid pointed out to me that quitting one manipulative scam or scammer doesn't cure one of the thinking pattern errors that got them sucked in in the first place.
  • November 2016 -- Politix and Scamworld on an extended honeymoon
    When Trump chose Betsy DeVos as his Education Secretary, he was not only thumbing his nose at public education but was also elevating someone with notorious Scamworld (Amway) connections -- as well as plutocracy and theocracy creds -- to an influential office.
  • October 2017 -- #FreeKevinTrudeau sucks up to Sheriff Joe
    For years, Kevin Trudeau and his minions tried -- unsuccessfully -- to get Donald Trump to free Kevin from prison early and, ideally, to issue a full pardon. One of the tactics the Trudeau camp used was to shamelessly kiss up to the atrocious, racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump had pardoned. Shortly after the pardon, Trudeau wrote a letter to Arpaio, congratulating him and calling him an American hero.
  • August 2019: Conspiranoid claptrap & manipulative manifestos cloud narrative about El Paso & Dayton shootings
    Two tragic mass shootings brought out the conspiranoid crazies and power-mad cynics from both Scamworld and the political arena. Most of them -- at least the ones who actually accepted that the shootings were real and weren't merely the latest performances from "crisis actors" -- tried to pin the blame for the shootings on liberals and Democrats. "Health Ranger" Mike Adams, who is one of the scheduled keynoters at the fascism-and-frauducts gathering in Nashville in October 2021, weighed in with his usual right-wing rants. Their arguments didn't hold water, but that didn't stop them.
  • March 2020 -- Coronacrazy: COVID-19 virus brings out the conspiranoids & fraudsters
    This was just the beginning. Things only got crazier as the months went by.
  • March 2020 -- The Lie-land of Dr. Trudeau: Kevin Trudeau joins the ranks of the corona-crapitalists
    Of course Kevin Trudeau, undisputed master of misinformation that "They" don't want you to know, would have to get in on the COVID craze. He spewed out so much crap that I ended up doing a followup post, the link to which is at the end of this one. Trudeau's overarching theme was that COVID is no big deal and that the alarming stats are grossly exaggerated; he even wrote that he actually hoped he would get COVID so he could show the world it's NBD. (He did later test positive for COVID, but apparently he survived. He's been silent on the subject, and on everything else, since he's been out on "home release.") Where does politix come in? I'm glad you asked. One of the highlights of Trudeau's "exclusive" information about COVID -- and he claimed to be privy to seekrit conversations about the plot -- was that the pandemic was a fabrication of a cartel of "Them" in the media and other enemy factions, whose chief purpose was to make Trump look bad so he would lose the 2020 election.
  • April 2020 -- Bless this mess with MMS: phony church (and possibly a phony president?) tout bleachy cure-nothing for COVID-19
    Worth a look for the embedded Randy Rainbow video alone. But there's also an exploration of the phony church founded by one Jim Humble, most notorious touter of bleachy cures, whom I'd written about previously on this blog.
  • August 2021 -- Oleandrin: Are Trump and cronies trying to crapitalize on a new phony COVID-19 cure?
    I posted this in the wake of early reports indicating that Trumpophant Mike Lindell, the MyShillow guy, is bat-crap crazy. Lindell is definitely a loony with one foot in Scamworld and the other in right-wing politix. But his head is buried in a certain fat orange ass.
  • June 2021 -- Covidiocy and the new waves of anti-vax lunacy
    Back when I first started posting about COVID craziness, I never thought I'd still be posting about it more than a year later. But here we are...
  • August 2021 -- Covidiocy continues: Canadian crackpot, COVID camps, Carlson claptrap
    Yes, here we are. 

Related off-Whirled:
Don't just listen to me. Here are a few pieces that offer some larger historical and cultural perspectives on the unholy marriage between Scamworld and right-wing politix.

  • These 'Conservative' Grifters Will Be The Death Of Our Republic
    Though Donald Trump may be the Grifter-in-Chief, he's hardly the first or only republican/conservative scammer. Not that Democrats and liberals are immune to the temptation to grift, but the republicans have taken the practice to dangerous new levels over the past few decades. Political commentator and progressive radio talk show host Thom Hartmann writes: surprises nobody to discover that when Donald Trump and the people around him learned, in mid-November of 2020, that there was absolutely no meaningful voter fraud in that month's election, they chose, instead of acknowledging the truth, to go ahead with a plan to raise over $200 million dollars (and counting). That even today "President Trump" is sending out one or two fundraising emails a day, each one with the tiny "make this a recurring donation" box pre-checked.

Grifters occupy a unique niche in the world of criminals: they avoid direct violence, but live and act only to enrich themselves, whether it's with money, sex, power or all three. They're typically high-functioning sociopaths who sneer at the rules of civilized society the rest of us take seriously.

Republican appointees on the US Supreme Court cracked open the door for professional grifters in 1976 when, for the first time in American history,
the Court redefined politicians taking money from billionaires away from being "political corruption" and "bribery"—what such behavior had been called since the beginning of the republic—to instead say it was a mere "exercise of free speech" on the part of the morbidly rich...

Hartmann traces the history since 1976 of the ways in which the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government paved the way for epic scamming by those in positions of power.

  • Why some New Age influencers believe Trump is a "lightworker"
    Once upon a time, way back during the dawning of the Age of Aquarius (as documented by the tribal love-rock musical Hair), new-agey/McSpirituality types tended to be either blissfully apolitical or earnestly left-leaning. They were famous not only for sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but also for protesting the war in Vietnam and embracing progressive social causes such as racial equality, feminism, gay rights, and a better, kinder, more loving world.
    I learned long ago that the love-and-light crowd wasn't and isn't all love-and-light by any means -- that new-age gurus and believers are just as prone to egomania and pettiness and back-stabbing and dishonesty and hypocrisy as anyone else (perhaps even more so) -- but even after those hard-learned lessons sank in, there were many years when I still pretty much took it for granted that new-agers who thought about politics at all were progressives or liberals.

    That's no longer the case, though, and at first it came as a bit of a surprise to me when I began to discover that many in new-age/New-Wage/McSpirituality circles are right at home with right-wing ideologies. It isn't so surprising that some of the less overtly "spiritual" Scamworld luminaries -- motivational gurus, infomercial hucksters, and Internet marketing grifters -- would lean rightward, or would at least be rabid libertarians, for the obvious reason that the fewer regulations and consumer protections there are, the more a scammer can get away with. But it does seem a little counter-intuitive that the more touchy-feely types would be right-leaning. Yet there's a perfectly logical explanation for this seemingly illogical phenomenon.

    In March 2021, Salon staff writer Nicole Karlis shed some light on the phenomenon of new-agey "lightworkers" embracing Donald Trump as a fellow "lightworker." She too acknowledged the changing demographics.

    This notion that Trump is a lightworker shares obvious parallels with the belief, held by some evangelicals, that Trump is comparable to Jesus; similarly, some QAnon followers believe that Trump is the "world leader" whose mission is to "save the children."

    Yet what makes the lightworker theory especially odd is that it has emerged from a demographic that would have previously been described as apolitical, or even far-left.

    However, as the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol showed, QAnon and Trump adherents are no longer just middle-aged, conservative white men like the Republican Party of yore. Many of those who embrace right-wing fringe beliefs are yogis, and love-and-light types, too. Take Jake Angeli for example, the so-called "QAnon Shaman" who donned a horned hat and spear-tipped American flag as he stormed the Capitol building on January 6. The 33-year-old, who identifies as having "shamanistic" beliefs, was recently granted the right to be fed an 
    all-organic diet in jail in line with his religious practice...

This piece also explains the phenomenon of "conspirituality," a word I wish I'd coined. It's well worth reading if you want to begin to understand the forces behind the craziness that's all around us. Perhaps the most disturbing aspects of this craziness are the historical parallels to the role that mysticism played in Nazi Germany -- a connection that my friend Chris Locke at the dormant Mystic Bourgeoisie blog documented very well some years back (this is just one link of several on his blog). Everything old is new again.

  •  Hacker reveals right-wing health care network made millions off ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine
    Snake oil is bigger business than ever these daze because of COVID. And once again we find Scamworld cozily in bed with (right-wing) politix.

    According to The Intercept, there’s a nice “network” of health care providers who have made millions on ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine during the pandemic. Do you remember the right-wing conspiracy theory-laden group of white medical uniform-wearing folks who called themselves America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS)? They promoted hydroxychloroquine as a miracle answer to COVID-19, and were able to get Republicans like Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to reverse course on hydroxychloroquine bans. Guess what The Intercept found?

    America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing group founded last year to promote pro-Trump doctors during the coronavirus pandemic, is working in tandem with a small network of health care companies to sow distrust in the Covid-19 vaccine, dupe tens of thousands of people into seeking ineffective treatments for the disease, and then sell consultations and millions of dollars’ worth of those medications. The data indicate patients spent at least $15 million — and potentially much more — on consultations and medications combined....

    And there's more!

    • Another prominent AFLDS person you might recognize is its founder, Simone Gold. The doctor and lawyer who helped get AFLDS off the ground was also known for telling the world in a May 2020 video: “We’re all acting as though there’s a huge medical crisis. I’m not sure that it’s front-page news.” Instead, Gold told viewers that “constitutional rights” being “trampled on” were the real issue. Now, Gold is better known for her more recent appearance as an insurrectionist on Jan. 6, 2021. Gold—who spoke into a bullhorn after trespassing into the Capitol building rotunda—is now facing five counts for her part in the insurrection.

      But as The Intercept discovered, the AFLDS wasn’t just saying awfully misleading and incorrect things into microphones, they were the propaganda wing of a nice money-making medical network. The network included telemedicine company, medical consultation platform, and online pharmacy Ravkoo. They way it works is that AFLDS refers its followers to, which uses the Cadence Health and Ravkoo platforms to offer up $90 phone “consultations” with doctors who have supposedly been trained by the AFLDS to prescribe you drugs like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.

    Nice work if you can get it. Too bad people are dying because of schemes like this, while folks who have a legitimate need for the substances in question are unable to get them due to hoarding by greedy and cynical snake oil pushers and scads of gullible, misinformed yahoos.


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 were 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.

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 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.)