Wednesday, April 26, 2023

#2641: Laurie Cardoza-Moore

The Christian Zionist group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) is a deranged fundamentalist group founded by Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a religious-right activist and conspiracy theorist. As for their particular flavor of fundamentalism, it can be well summed up by Cardoza-Moore’s praise for Donald Trump for being willing to live his faith unlike any other leader I have ever seen in historyand for running his administration in accordance with the Bible. Yeah, that kind of fundie.


President Biden, on the other hand, must be voted out of office because he does not represent [our] Judeo-Christian values, and Cardoza-Moore has repeatedly demanded theimmediate resignations of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” because disagreeing with Cardoza-Moore on politics is unconstitutional (Omar, in particular, is a traitor because she is a Muslima threat to our national security. She is a threat to our allies and their national security. She’s a threat to our Christian and Jewish communities.”) Trump, meanwhile, is, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attacked by the left to bring them down because they are men of integrity and they are men of faith” – ‘integrity’, of course, means sharing political preferences with Cardoza-Moore. Fortunately, Trump can’t be harmed, because he is protected by God: “God is not going to allow this man to be attacked”. And that confers duties upon us: “We as a Judeo-Christian nation have a responsibility to uphold the word of God”, said Cardoza-Moore, and offered, since why not, her insights about the United States’ role in the End Times (something people apparently often ask her about): “Look at the English spelling of the word Jerusalem. What are the three letters in the center of that word? U.S.A. … That is our prophetic place to be.” In fairness, we suppose that if you genuinely wondered about the role of the US in the End Times, that’s as good an answer as any.


Cardoza-Moore and her organization probably first rose to public attention through their participation in a garbled, conspiracy-riddled wingnut effort to stop the construction of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The PJTN spearheaded a litigation to to block the mosque’s construction (Kevin Fisher was one of the plaintiffs; the others were Lisa Moore, who claimed to be harmed by the center because she would be targeted for death under Sharia law because she’s a Jewish female, and Henry Golzynski, who claimed to be harmed by the construction of the center because he lost a son fighting in Fallujah by insurgents pursuing jihad as dictated by Sharia law), and demanded that the Rutherford County sheriff investigate a supposed conspiracy linking the mosque with Islamic militants in Somalia and Gaza that they imagined to be there. Cardoza-Moore herself stated that the mosque was part of a plot to take over Middle Tennessee, which is surely a strategically crucial step in their attempt to achieve world domination. As part of their (counter-)efforts, the PJTN would pay various witnesses thousands of dollars to read extracts from anti-Muslim Internet websites to the court. The case was primarily based on the claim that the building of the center put local residents at risk because “there was considerable evidence of elevated risks to the public safety of citizens of Rutherford County from the proposed ICM compound”, and they claimed tohave been and will be irreparably harmed by the risk of terrorism generated by proselytising for Islam and inciting the practices of sharia law.” Ultimately, the argument boiled down to the plaintiff’s lawyer, Joe Brandon jr. spending a week trying to convince the court that Islam should not be considered a religion and that the mosque was not entitled to religious land use zoning regulations because these are the same people who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 9/11.The court was not impressed with the clown show.


Cardoza-Moore’s more recent efforts have been aimed at ensuring that public school textbooks eliminate what she claims isanti-Semitic, anti-Judeo/Christian, Anti-American, pro-Islamic indoctrination of students.” In 2021, she was appointed to a seat on Tennessee’s State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission, which is insane enough, but according to herself, her efforts are bearing fruits also beyond Tennessee – she has for instance bragged about her ties to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and claimed that her efforts have ensured that Florida public school students are now being taught that this nationwas founded on the Torah.” Yeah, the claim might be surprising to some (in a number of ways), but to support the claim that the US was, in fact, founded on the Torah (it wasn’t), Cardoza-Moore repurposed a number of falsehoods and misleading claims made by pseudohistorian David Barton. In any case, Florida is currently “the only state in the nation now that is teaching what God commands us to teach our children, says Cardoza-Moore, and yes: the goal is of course to undermine the separation of church and state.


Diagnosis: Given our unfailing optimism, we repeatedly end up entertaining the hope that some of thiesefigures will eventually listen to reason. But looking at what passes for thinking in the mind of people like Laurie Cardoza-Moore will starkly remind us that it’s probably futile. And Cardoza-Moore seems to have some clout in the circles she’s frequenting. It’s downright embarrassing.   

Monday, April 24, 2023

#2640: John Cardillo

John Cardillo is a wingnut’s wingnut, former Newsmax host and boss of a munitions company called M42 Tactical. To most people, Cardillo is probably best known for his spectacularly inane and backfiring attempts to smear those who disagree with him politically (we apologize for linking to Huffpo, which remains a shithole). To us, he is most notable as an antivaccine activist and critic of various Covid measures based on stupid conspiracy theories. “Fuck Fauci, fuck Bill Gates, fuck Gates’s vaccine profits, fuck your stealing our rights, fuck your destroying our economy” sums up Cardillo’s position pretty well. His repertoire of antivaccine PRATTs includes e.g. the old appeal to package inserts and citing conspiracy theorist Joseph Ladapo’s regurgitation of anti-vaccine pseudoscience as an authoritative source.


With regard to content, Cardillo is primarily a wingnut shitposter, and his commentaries tend to consist of nonsense promoted by other wingnuts, just with added rage and confusion; Cardillo is primarily not a wingnut bullshit producer but a wingnut bullshit amplifier. It’s thus hardly surprising that Cardillo has also voiced his concerns over e.g. climate change, or as he puts it, the left’s “climate change nonsense” – science is all politics to someone like Cardillo, and the facts are relative to political allegiance. But he does have an audience, apparently, even though he’ll hardly convince anyone not already committed to conspiratorial wingnut nonsense – like the audiences of Newsmax.


Cardillo is, like other wingnuts, quick to appeal to conspiracy theories to explain away events that would otherwise put wingnuts and white supremacists in a bad light: When Florida man and ardent Trumpist Cesar Sayoc sent pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and Trump critics in 2019, for instance, Cardillo was quick to appeal to false flag conspiracies (“Investigators need to take a serious look at far-left groups like #Antifa when investigating the bombs sent to Soros, Obama and the Clintons. These smell like the false flag tactics of unhinged leftists who know they’re losing”), trying desperately to maintain them even after the case had been solved and Sayoc arrested.


Diagnosis: No, this isn’t much of a post, but we don’t really feel any temptation to try to engage with Cardillo’s soundbite shitposting. Other wingnuts bring the nonsense, Cardillo contributes a beatbox and sound effects.  

Thursday, April 20, 2023

#2639: Gina Carano

We harbor a distaste for celebrity loons, but apparently some people still feel that celebrities have something interesting to say in virtue of being celebrities, at least insofar as the celebrities in question say stuff they already agree with; celebrities are, in fact, often in a position to reach wide audiences with their bullshit. Accordingly, we are compelled to mention some of them. Gina Carano, for instance.


Gina Joy Carano is a former mixed martial artist and actress, perhaps most widely known for her appearances in The Mandalorian and subsequent spat with Disney due to her being a gibbering lunatic and bigot – and like so many wingnut assholes, she is both paranoid and melodramatic, having predictably reacted to pushback against and criticism of her political views by likening being a conservative in the US today to Nazi genocide of Jewish people. Among the offending claims are repeated promotion of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, where Carano has alleged – with no more evidence than Donald Trump – massive voter fraud.


Carano is also known for her COVID-denialism, and her fallout with various Hollywood projects was largely due to her refusing to follow various COVID-19 measures. And of course there are conspiracy theories afoot; indeed, Carano believes that the war in Ukraine is a government conspiracy to control the public through fear, and was started because they had lost control of the covid narrative” (a “scripted reality show sacrificing innocent lives for unquenchable greed”). Yes, the US Democrats (it is always about the US) is really controlling Russia, and can easily force Putin to start a war to help them wag the dog when they are backed up against the wall by a couple of deranged wingnut conspiracy theorists like Carano. (It’s of course not the only conspiracy theory she’s been pushing.)


And yes, she is, of course, anti-vaccine.


Diagnosis: Tiresomely predictable and nonsensical. It’s hard to gauge her influence, though, given that most of the dingbats rallying to her support are already part of the tinfoil hat brigade, but she sure doesn’t make any positive contribution.

Monday, April 17, 2023

#2638: Christopher Cantwell


A.k.a. The Crying Nazi


Well, we originally planned to write an entry on antivaxxer and COVID-19 denialist Kelly Canon, but it turns out she died in 2022 – of COVID. Christopher Cantwell is still around, sort of, and is a figure of some note in the altright movement; we probably need to give him a note, although we can’t be bothered to go into mich detail.


Cantwell first drew attention to himself as a free stater activist who advocated for killing police officers – officially in “self-defense”, but he has a rather broad understanding of what self-defense involves (“it is my honest opinion that this driver would be morally justified in shooting that police officer at the moment the [police car’s] lights go on”). He has since distanced himself from mainstream libertarianism in favor of white supremacism (“I have become convinced that our problems are a lot more racial than anything … the police are not my biggest problem right now”) and anti-semitic conspiracy theories, and in 2017 he got himself arrested, not for the last time, for his involvement – he was a scheduled speaker – in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally. He featured prominently in the Vice News Tonight documentary about the rally, in which he was shown threatening to kill protesters and chanting “Jews will not replace us!” He earned himself his nickname for an … emotional video he published upon learning that there was a warrant for his arrest after the release of the Vice documentary. It’s not the only time he’s gotten emotional, and he tends to blame his lapses into sentimentality somehow on “the Jews”. (Another party to blame is Antifa, a largely mythical bogeyman – a bunch of “communists” that “ought to be put through a wood chipper” – that resides under Cantwell’s bed and that Cantwell complains the police doesn’t arrest.) Although he endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2016, Cantwell noted that he hoped for a leader who was “a lot more racist than Donald Trump”, one who who “does not give his daughter to a Jew”.


Cantwell has spread his views through various youtube videos, radio shows, blogs and video games, in particular the video games Angry Goy and Angry Goy II.


Diagnosis: Proud and unrepentant Nazi and generally pitiful and laughable (but not harmless) moron and clown. It’s easy to think of Cantwell and his fellow white supremacists as having failed miserably at the irony and cynicism often associated with his generation; at least failure seems to be a general characteristic of everything Cantwell.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

#2637: Nick Cannon

Nicholas Scott Cannon is a television host, actor, rapper, comedian, general celebrity, anti-semitic conspiracy theorist and promoter of Louis Farrakhan’s dingbat version of blacksupremacism, including the deranged magic melanin idea. According to Cannon, white people are “savages”, who are “closer to animals”, and the “only way that they can act is evil”, and the reason is their lack of melanin, which is what produces the magic energy that is the source of humanity and civilization in other people – “Jewish people, white people, Europeanshave a “deficiency” that historically caused them to act out of fear and commit acts of violence to survive.


Worse than regular white people, however, are zeh Jews, who run a global conspiracy that controls finance; they are “the bloodlines that control everything – even outside of America”, “the Illuminati, the Zionists, the Rothschilds”. Zeh Jews achieved that position apparently by stealing the identity of black people, who, as Cannon sees things, are the “true Hebrews”. He denied that he was being anti-semitic, however: “the semitic people are the Black people” so “you can’t be anti-Semitic when we are the semitic people. When we are the same people who they want to be. That’s our birthright.” So there. Cannon famously explained and elaborated on his ideas during an episode of his podcast Cannon’s Class with Professor Griff (together with former Public Enemies-member Richard Griffin, who himself has espoused anti-semitic conspiracy theories), which led to ViacomCBS’s termination of their relationship with him, notably the program Wild ‘N Out. ViacomCBS reinstated him a bit later, however, after he made a statement apologizing for his comments (or rather, about comments that had been projected as negative) about Jewish people and demanded complete ownership for Wild n Out and an apology from ViacomCBS for his termination.


Apparently, Cannon is currently working on a documentary promoting the insane pseudoscientific ramblings of Dr. Sebi. The documentary was apparently originally the brainchild of rapper Nipsey Hussle, and when Hussle died, Cannon helped promote the conspiracy theory that he was killed for his involvement with the documentary. “Spiritual Warfare is REAL and in full effect,” declared Cannon.


Diagnosis: Utterly batshit conspiracy theorist, and though he is famous enough to be taken to task when his lunacy descend into bigotry, most of his nonsense seem to fly under most people’s radar. And his conspiracy theories seem to have a broader impact than most people seem to realize.

Monday, April 10, 2023

#2636: Tami Canal

Among denialist movements, anti-GMO views remain at least among the more socially acceptable. Anti-GMO views are, of course, as fraught with conspiracy theories, denialism and pseudoscience as climate change denialism, yet activists have certainly managed to have some impact. Among the more impactful denialist organizations is March Against Monsanto, an international protest movement targeting GMOs through the common anti-GMO bogeyman Monsanto, and the organization has arranged numerous protests against Monsanto, GMOs and Roundup.


GMO debate template 

The movement was founded by Tami Canal (and propped by activists like Emilie Rensink and Nick Bernabe) in response to the failure of California Proposition 37 – despite Canal and her allies vastly outspending their opponents in campaigning and lobbying efforts – a ballot initiative which would have required labeling food products made from GMOs. The initial march took place in 2013 in hundreds of cities across the world with possibly hundreds of thousands of participants carrying signs promoting a lot of anti-science nonsense (anti-vaccine stuff, for instance) but mostly focused around slogans like “Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know”, and “Real Food 4 Real People” – the latter is in fact rather telling when it comes to understanding anti-GMO activism (as is this). According to Dorothy Muehlmann, organizer of the L.A. version of the march, the goal of GMO labeling was to raise awareness and help people make informed decision, which is a talking point that should be familiar. Subsequent marches occurred in 2014 and 2015.


The organization itself has a track-record of being notoriously unconcerned with facts and evidence, given that existing scientific consensus – and the facts and evidence supporting consensus – concerning GMO safety don’t support the conclusion they prefer: the organization tends instead to forward any conceivable conspiracy theory related to Monsanto and to blame everything and anything from colony collapse disorder to cancer on the existence of genetically modified crops on the simple basis that cancer and colony collapse disorder exist (evidence for a connection is for losers, or non-Real People). When they see fit to refer to scientific studies, they tend to cite papers by known pseudoscientists and people who have had to retract their previous papers on the subject under accusations of fraud (yes: that one). Their facebook page is also a predictable cesspool of chemtrail conspiracies (chemtrails are being used by Monsanto and their allies to kill non-genetically modified plants to ensure a world-wide monopoly), anti-vaccine hysteria and claims of US election fraud (but of course: you’re not surprised, are you?)


Tami Monroe Canal herself is a California homemaker-turned-food woo guru. She has no background in any field relevant to nutrition or biotechnology, but nevertheless has decided that non-organic food is “poison” and was frustrated with the failure of Proposition 37 because she was ostensibly concerned about the health of her children. Her early objections to GMOs – she systematically fails to distinguish GMOs from Monsanto – was mostly based on various conspiracy theories (according to Canal, US food regulatory agencies are so deeply embedded with Monsanto that it’s useless to attempt to effect change through governmental channels) and the familiar talking point about “exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup,” which is potentially nefarious but which has also been standard practice among all seed producers, organic or not, for a very long time.


And Canal is also – but of course – an antivaccine activist, and she’s made numerous effortst to protest what she claims is “the CDC’s deadly vaccine schedule”. In 2016, for instance, she joined antivaccine leaders Del Bigtree and Levi Quackenboss for a meeting with Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR), to demand a government investigation of the CDC on the basis of conspiracy theories (in particular the familiar and silly “CDC whistleblower” conspiracy). She was also a speaker at “Revolution for Truth”, a 2017 antivaccine march on Washington organized by various antivaccine groups. Some of her views on vaccines were explained in her 2016 conspiracy rant “CDC Quarantine Committee Working on Law to Detain, Imprison, and Vaccinate Any American they Deem Necessary”, in which she complained thatIf you remember the movie, ‘Contagion,’ [Canal evidently didn’t quite get it] the CDC’s power grab reads like the script. Detainment, imprisonment (indefinite), forced medical examinations, forced treatment, forced vaccination ... for MEASLES. The CDC is lumping MEASLES in with Ebola.” (For the record, the CDC rule says absolutely nothing about forced vaccination, and measles is not a quarantinable disease, of course, but this has nothing to do with facts.) And yes, Tami Canal does claim, falsely, that vaccines cause autism, and has filed briefs with legislatures to that effect.


But oh, there’s more! In her article “The link between GMOs and Morgellons Disease”, Canal notes that there is little research “correlating Morgellons with GMO foods”. And to Canal, “[t]his is suspicious right off the bat, because it would seem that there would be a natural curiosity regarding a link between Genetically Modified Organisms that people ingest regularly and inorganic fibers that protrude from a person’s skin,” and hence the lack of research is not only evidence for a causal connection but for a vast and thoroughgoing conspiracy. The real reason there is little such research is of course that Morgellons Disease does not exist. Well, Canal found one … rant. By Coast to Coast AM-stalwart Whitley Strieber, no less. From which she concludes that “what you purchase from the store might just change your DNA and create such frightening symptoms that the general public simply does not believe it.” It should be unnecessary to point out that you cannot change your DNA through diet. And Canal isn’t done, but we are.


Diagnosis: A wild-eyed promoter of unadulterated paranoia and conspiracy theories – anything she comes across, apparently – who at some point (and with help) managed to create a rather popular anti-science movement with a real, negative impact on food safety and environmental issues. At this point we’d hope her deranged conspiracy are sufficiently well-known for that fiasco not to repeat itself, but the whole thing is scary.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

#2635: Don Campbell

The Mozart effect is a silly but familiar bit of nonsense pop psychology according to which listening to Mozart’s music will, for some unclear reason, increase your intelligence. It was first proposed by real researchers (Shaw et al.), but their study failed to replicate and a meta-study showed no effect (at least not beyond whatever might have been caused by mood changes). But hah! When has lack of evidence, plausibility or mechanism stopped a potentially profitable piece of pseudopsychology? Several attempts were made to turn the mythical effect into a cash cow, the most important (outside of Austria) probably being Don Campbell’s Mozart Effect Resource Center, which peddles a variety of pseudo-scientific products based on the myth (he even trademarked the purported effect). Campbell subsequently wrote a number of books and published numerous albums with Mozart’s music, including The Mozart Effect for Children, where he explains, in the chapter “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Neuron”, that Mozart’s music enhances the network of connections forming in the infant brain, based on the fact that it sounds properly sciency and gentrified for his audiences to say something like that. That said, even Campbell has criticized the original Shaw et al.-study for its lack of controls – concluding, predictably and based on no evidence whatsoever, that had the controls been in place, the effect observed would have been even more dramatic. It demonstrably would not.


But not only does Mozart increase your intelligence, as Campbell sees it; Mozart is rather an all-purpose source of magic, and can even cure disease – according to Campbell, he himself made a blood clot in his brain disappear by humming, praying, and envisioning a vibrating hand on the right side of his skull. The finding didn’t quite reach peer review. But it is not Campbell’s only flimsy anecdote about the disease-curing properties of music written by a generally sickly person with numerous health problems who died at the age of 35. As it is, Campbell remains a popular speaker for post-truth middle-class audiences.


Diagnosis: Mostly a cynical but savvy opportunist, we assume, but people who keep repeating nonsense for decades will usually end up convincing themselves, too. Not the most immediately harmful of woo, perhaps, but woo nonetheless.

Monday, April 3, 2023

#2634: Bob Campbell

We have no idea whether he’s still around, but proud Arkansan Bob Campbell used to be a bit of a clown-figure on the wingnut conspiracy circuit, the ones that would later descend into Trump-worship and Qanon rubbish. Campbell was the instigator of something he called the American Grand Jury back in the late 2000s, the mission of which was to drive then-President Obama from office and put him on trial for treason. According to Campbell, Obama “is a certified crook that has committed treason and fraud,” therefore “[H]e is a fraud and a traitor.” So it goes.


Apparently Campbell formed the American Grand Jury in March 2009 to examine “evidence” and hand down “presentments” that the group hoped would be used to indict the president (no, he doesn’t even being to understand how any of this works). Campbell’s main charge was of course that Obama wasn’t born in the United States and thus ineligible to serve as president. The group also sought to indict Nancy Pelosi for her role in the scheme to get the Obama elected. Campbell’s concrete plan was to take supporters (for a mere $649 a head) on a roadtrip by bus to deliver their findings to federal judges in 20 states. In a rare moment of self-awareness, Campbell admitted that “[s]erving our Grand Jury Presentments have [sic] always made the courts mad,” but he was nevertheless convinced that “[w]ith what I have in mind it should really burn the bark right off a few of these liberal Judges.”


Campbell is predictably critical of Islam as well: “Islam is a bully belief system. It’s [sic] followers act as spoiled little children/brats that can’t take the truth”, and he was strongly in favor of Quran burning. “ ‘Burn baby burn’ is my motto”, said Campbell.


Diagnosis: We would actually be somewhat surprised if Campbell made it all the way to the 2020s, given his basic incompetence at forming true and useful beliefs about the world, but insofar as he did, we have a fair idea of what he’d be doing right now. Probably mostly harmless, though.


Hat-tip: Splcenter