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Attempting To Moderate Marjorie Taylor Greene
Human YouTube comment section Marjorie Taylor Greene was stripped of all her congressional committees on Thursday. Though pressure has been mounting against Republican leadership to properly denounce Greene, only 11 Republicans voted yes on removing her. This makes sense, Greene represents a tremendously vocal wing of the Republican party right now. Learning how to integrate the Facebook-brained conspiracy theorists that now make up a huge chunk of their base will be the GOP’s main political project over the next four years.
Greene sorta-kinda walked back a bunch of the completely insane things she’s said and done publicly over the last few years. Though, she did not apologize for any of them. You can watch a video of her remarks from the House floor here. Punchbowl News’ John Bresnahan had a good thread collecting them, as well. Greene told the House that she now firmly believes that 9/11 happened. Cool. Normal. She walked back previous claims that she has made that school victims are all crisis actors. And she claimed that her belief in QAnon is a thing of the past. Then this morning she tweeted this:
In many ways, Greene tweeting the Democrats are “a bunch of morons” for “giving some one[sic] like me free time” is her saying the quiet part out loud. There is no way for QAnon candidates to function within the machinery of government. The movement is an anti-democratic cult singularly focused on the destruction of truth and the literal public execution of their political enemies. Greene was never met to sit on committees.
It’s good that her political influence has been minimized, but also, in many ways, for the hundreds of thousands of QAnon supporters across the country (and world), this couldn’t have gone better. She can now safely sit on the sidelines and shout as much crazy nonsense as much as she wants.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are now sending out press releases literally referring to the Republican party as the QAnon party. This may seem like le epic Jimmy Kimmel-level dunk, but it’s not. Sorry to ruin the mood at brunch. This, once again, could not be more perfect for the QAnon believers watching along from their computer screens at home. In fact, we seem doomed to watch Congress go through the same idiotic handwringing over QAnon that platforms like Facebook and Twitter spent the last few years doing. I’m pre-cringing at the idea of Democrats spending the next four years making shitty digs at those whacky QAnon crazies, without doing anything meaningful to address the problem. They’ll freeze out politicians like Greene, while also giving them the outsider status they so desperately want, and then act shocked when even more Q candidates win seats in 2022.
The main problem is QAnon is several things at once and just tackling one piece of it allows the other dimensions of it to grow unabated. First and foremost, QAnon is a doomsday cult. Its followers believe that a great and terrible cataclysm will manifest soon and usher in a new golden age for America. They call this event “The Storm”. You cannot be a QAnon supporter without believing that Donald Trump and the US military will eventually publicly execute every member of the Democratic party. That is the central premise. When Greene said that’s what she used to believe “in the past,” that’s what she used to believe.
QAnon is also a decentralized political party. It is has leaders and influencers, though they’re elected via raw internet engagement, and then those leaders and influencers help the movement shape a somewhat coherent platform. Their platform supports things like the abolishment of all vaccinations, a violently hard-line stance on child trafficking, the establishment of an American military dictatorship, and, once again, the murder of all Democrats.
And, finally, QAnon is a computer virus. Instead of being lines of malicious code, it is a constantly mutating jumble of violent and terrifying ideas that invades any vulnerable openings in social machinery. This is as true for Facebook as it is Congress. If you allow QAnon in, it will spread. This is why nothing Facebook did to QAnon mattered in the long run until they decided to completely eradicate it.
But now it’s in Congress. It will spread and it will not be easy to push it back and removing it entirely from our political system will require some very difficult decisions about how we think about democracy and free speech, which, unfortunately, is exactly what QAnon followers want.
Pornstar Barry Wood Helps The FBI
This was dropped into the Garbage Day Discord by user acorn squashed yesterday. It’s a screenshot from a report compiled by FBI special agent Emily Eckert. You can read the whole thing here. The report details how a Massachusetts Domino’s employee named Brian McCreary allegedly ended up storming the Capitol on January 6th. McCreary has been charged with two counts of illegal entry and three counts of violent entry and disorderly conduct.
If you haven’t noticed what’s wrong here, look at the red arrow and then look slightly to the right. That is a picture of Barry Wood, the pornstar with an incredibly huge penis that became a meme last summer. My sister spent several months terrorizing me with Barry Wood memes. I compiled them in an Imgur folder. It’s EXTREMELY NSFW.
There is not actually a painting of Barry Wood in the Capitol building, unfortunately. The real painting is of Henry Clay. The Barry Wood version of the image appears to have originated from this Instagram page. I assume someone spotted McCreary on the meme page and reported it to the FBI?
Here’s a weird connection, though. The actual painting was done by Henry F. Darby, who was born in North Adams, Massachusetts, the same town that McCreary is from. History might not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.
This Is Culture Now
Mod Drama Has Finally Come For r/WallStreetBets
r/WallStreetBets is effectively falling apart, right now. On Wednesday, I wrote about how conspiracy theories about bots, as well as, actual very real bots had overrun the subreddit and a few popular offshoots.
On Thursday, the subreddit became even more fractured. The humungous amount of attention around the subreddit has divided the mods, with some believing they should cash in on the community somehow. This is actually what led them to kick out its founder, Jaime Rogozinski, last year. Rogozinski has said that he was removed because he was trying to limit the amount of hate speech and abuse on the subreddit, but users claim they ousted him for trying to make money off the community by writing a book about it titled WallStreetBets: How Boomers Made the World’s Biggest Casino for Millennials. Rogozinski may be the one coming out on top, however, considering he just sold his life rights to Brett Ratner’s production company, RatPac Entertainment. What a horrible sentence, I’m sorry you all had to read that.
If you want to dig into all the mod drama happening on r/WallStreetBets right now and don’t actually want to visit the subreddit, my friend Taylor has a good thread about it. The main conflict seems to be between newer mods who helped the GameStop pump blow up and older mods who want to cash in on the attention. It also seems like there is still a big chunk of the subreddit that wants to keep pumping the stock, while others are beginning to waver.
“We can't let them win. I will ride my stocks through this. Please don't let them win,” a recent post condemning the older mods reads. “This is not financial advice. I'm mentally unstable.”
A Redditor Asks An Important Question
This was sent to me by my friend Ellie this morning. Here are the important bits:
“Now, my girlfriend has this idea in her head that I'm a whiz at the stock market because a few years back I made a tidy sum on cryptocurrencies. In reality, I just bought Eth and Bitcoin and they happened to moon before I cashed out.”
“I lost all my crypto money from before on a fake scam coin”
“I said I could turn the $5000 grandma left her in inheritance into $10,000.”
“I bought in at $400 and it's down to about $70 as I write this.”
“She hates the fact I spend money on lots of hobbies like my Nintendo Switch games and Funko Pops instead of saving, and she's basically said I can't have them back until I return the money.”
You can read the whole thing here.
My friend Jules raised a very good point on Twitter. All of this seems actually pretty believable. Reddit is awash in stories right now of GameStop losses. The bubble is finally bursting and things are getting gnarly. But the line about this guy’s girlfriend holding his Funko Pops hostage could be a red flag that this is all fake. But also, Redditors love Funko Pops. Who knows!
The Great Gorilla Glue TikTok Saga
Guys, this whole thing is SO wild. I feel so bad for TikTok user @im_d_ollady, but I’m also completely utterly unable to stop watching the videos she’s posting of her rock hard completely solid ponytail. She explains her in her first video that she typically uses a hair spray to hold her ponytail in place. About a month ago, she didn’t have hair spray so she, for some reason, decided to use Gorilla Glue spray. Here’s a video she posted of what it looks like when she tries to shampoo her hair.
Like I said, I genuinely feel for her. In her videos it seems like she’s trying to figure out whether to laugh or cry. I really don’t know what you do in a situation like this. According to a Quora thread I found, it seems like acetone is the best way to remove Gorilla Glue, but that cannot be good to put on your hair. I wish her the best.
Another Salvo In The Great Newsletter War
Last week, Facebook announced that they are working on a newsletter tool. Facebook’s newsletter aspirations followed a similar announcement from Twitter that it was acquiring Revue, a newsletter platform.
Yesterday, Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie wrote a newsletter about the, uh, state of newsletters. McKenzie is honestly very generous to Facebook and Twitter and seems to be hoping for the best for the companies’ new newsletter products on the horizon:
In particular, Facebook and Twitter should do their utmost to give power to writers and readers. That means letting writers own their relationships with their readers and giving them the ability to take those relationships off the platform whenever they want. It also means letting readers fully control what they see in their feeds by avoiding ads and disincentivizing culture-war superweapons like retweetable quote-retweets (such as my mean tweets above).
I get a question a lot — “are newsletters a bubble?” There are two answers to this, as far as I’m concerned. First, yes, we are in a newsletter bubble, but, also, newsletters are one of the oldest publishing mediums on the internet. There are many people who will start a newsletter and abandon it and there are many who will find out they love it and just keep it going.
What I find interesting about Facebook, in particular, introducing a newsletter product is how the company doesn’t seem to realize how bad of an idea that is. Facebook has spent a decade courting some of the lowest common denominator content that can be found online. It has chased the absolute lowest-value users possible to reach a scale that could support its ad network ambitions. What I’m saying is, Facebook users are essentially worthless if they aren’t bundled together into a network of several billion. Also, Facebook has spent about five years trying to get their users to stop using text and instead fill up their feeds with video content. What happens when Facebook magicians and QAnon chiropractors get a newsletter product?
Anyways, that’s not to say Substack is perfect either…
The Indian Greta Thunberg PsyOp PsyOp
Indian farmers have been protesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration since last fall. The protests are escalating in their violence and intensity. Last month, the farmers broke their way into a historic part of Delhi, resulting in the death of one protester and over 80 police being injured.
Here’s a very good explainer on why the protests started. In its simplest terms, the farmers are angry about a series of bills that were passed by the Modi government that would weaken or dismantle regulatory protections for how produce is sold in the country, which put the country’s farmers in economic jeopardy and open them up to exploitation.
Modi has responded to the protest movement with increasingly authoritarian crackdowns. His administration’s repressive response has caused a wave international shock, which is, of course, stupid because this is what he always does. Right now, his government is threatening to jail Twitter employees for allowing journalists to report on the protests. The internet has also been restricted in several Delhi neighborhoods. This is one of Modi’s favorite tricks, which is ironic because platforms like Facebook and Twitter helped build the Hindu nationalist populist movement that got him elected and then re-elected. Modi is the ur-Trump, elected twice thanks to a groundswell of online radicalization and he appears to be singularly focused on building a Hindu ethnostate in India.
Thunberg and her “toolkit” became the target of India’s vast right-wing disinformation machine. The document, which was originally hosted on Google Docs, is an extremely innocuous write-up of what the protests are about and some simple ways to spread the word about them. It has a few online petitions you can sign and some hashtags you can use. You can check it out on cryptpad here.
The fact it is a basic factsheet hasn’t stopped right-wing sites in India from going nuts over it. OpIndia has turned it into a complete news cycle. Another site is using unnamed sources to try and implicate the World Sikh Organization in helping build the “toolkit”. Delhi police even say they’re going to go after Google for originally hosting it.
The entire controversy is, more than anything, a tremendous bit of projection. You see, there’s a reason why India’s Hindu nationalists would be so sensitive about the idea of protesters coordinating via Google Docs — that’s their thing. Modi’s troll army famously uses Google Docs to coordinate their hashtag campaigns.
In fact, they’re so blindly dependent on Google Docs that in 2019, Pratik Sinha, a local misinformation researcher, documented someone breaking into the “master sheet” and editing it to say that Modi didn’t care about India’s middle class. Which led to more than a few ministers tweeting the wrong thing because of the edits. Whoops!
The Drive Boyfriend Was Finally Caught
Back in 2015, a 4chan users came up with a great idea. Spent every waking moment acting like the silent sociopathic Ryan Gosling character from Drive. People will think you’re cool and women will want to sleep with you.
I refuse to write this all out because the precious time I have on this planet is worth slightly more than that. But if you can’t read it all in the screenshot, here’s a dramatic reading of the post.
Well, a few days ago, a podcaster named Dana Donnelly tweeted that she once dated a guy who based his entire personality on Ryan Gosling’s character from Drive.
Another Twitter user noticed the similarities between the two and tweeted about it. But get this. Donnelly has more tweets in her thread about dating the Drive guy. Another one of her boyfriends apparently was such a Drive guy that he literally wearing the snake bomber jacket. Which begs the question…
…Just how many Drive guys are out there?
P.S. here’s a bunch of good shirts.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***