Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

SPLC Attacks Joe Biden

February 24, 2021

Just two months after taking office, President Joe Biden finds himself the target of righteous anger from his voter base for his recent decision to reopen two detention centers built by the Obama administration to house unaccompanied immigrant children. Sensing an opportunity to peddle some fresh outrage to its donor base, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a breathless press release on February 23 condemning both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris by name. The wording of the release is interesting, both for what it says and what it does not.

In a blaring, all-caps headline, the SPLC writes: “SPLC: REOPENING OF MIGRANT CHILD PRISONS MORALLY INDEFENSIBLE AND UNNECESSARY.” The opening line states that “The Biden-Harris administration is reportedly planning to reopen the Homestead detention center to detain unaccompanied migrant children.”

Note the curious use of the phrase “Biden-Harris administration,” something we’ve never seen before and a pairing the SPLC has never made with previous administrations. Since when do vice-presidents get their own “administrations”? The release repeats the phrase three times.

Also note the use of the terms “prisons” and “detention center” for a facility the Obama administration (or was it the Obama-Biden administration?) named the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children. The SPLC didn’t see fit to refer to it by any name when Obama was running it, and they seem to have avoided the “Kids in Cages” trope under Trump, though they have used the term “caged” on many occasions to describe the detention of adult illegal aliens.

The Biden administration claims that the shelters are indeed temporary, just as Obama and Trump did, but many Progressives aren’t buying it. They quite rightly see the hypocrisy inherent in the decision. Since Biden and the SPLC share many of the same donors the company has a built-in market for its outrage product.

The piece offers one other linguistic sidestep when it refers to “… the failed model of child detention of the pre-Trump era…” They cannot even bring themselves to give credit where due to the Obama administration for creating the shelter system in the first place.

As to the “unnecessary” aspect of the plan, blared out in the headline, the author of the press release, who we’ll address below, states: “There are community-based, humane alternatives to detention such as NGOs, nonprofits and community sponsors that are ready to safely care for migrant children from the safety of homes.These options are safer and less traumatizing and will end our reliance on profit-driven private detention corporations.”

The author seems to believe that scattering the children over hundreds of foster homes is preferable to keeping them in one or two locations, where their parents could theoretically locate them should they ever wish to reclaim them in the future.

It also implies that these organizations and individuals would willingly shoulder the cost of feeding, clothing and housing these hundreds of teenagers with no compensation from the government. It’s not an impossible dream, just highly unlikely, though there is one player that could easily take up the challenge and never feel the financial bite in the least.

According to its 2019 IRS Form 990 tax form (2020’s is due out any week now) the SPLC had more than half a billion dollars in cash on hand, 98% of which is designated as “unrestricted” in use. A mere one or two percent of that hoard would be ample for the needs of the undocumented children and would no doubt score major cool points with the donors, who would be thrilled to see their money actually was doing something more useful than hiding out in offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. Win/Win/Win.

The author of the press release, Oliver Torres, is a new name to us, but considering the enormous hiring binge the SPLC has been on in recent years (from 296 paid employees and 22 volunteers in 2015 to 441 employees and 446 volunteers in 2019) it’s hardly surprising. What is surprising is Mr. Torres’ job title: “Senior Outreach Paralegal for the [SPLC’s] Immigrant Justice Project.”

Considering how important the SPLC claims their work for illegal aliens is, and also considering that half-billion dollars in the bank, the best the company can do is to assign a paralegal to the project? Really? Are there no actual lawyers left at the Law Center?

It would seem that once again the Southern Poverty Law Center is selling image rather than character. No doubt it is going to be “business as usual” with the accent on business as we enter the post-Morris Dees and post-Donald Trump era. As with any huge business organization there is a constant need to devise new products to keep the customers coming back year after year.

It will be worth watching how the “Biden-Harris administration fares with the blowback from this dose of cold political reality.

SPLC — Hate Map 2020 — Trump Crushes “Hate Groups”!!!

February 19, 2021

Recently the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool, which purports to identify “hate groups” in the US from the previous fiscal year. As usual, it’s full of unvetted claims and outright obfuscations, but like its thirty predecessors, going back to 1990, the “Hate Map” tool is guaranteed to bring in tens of millions of tax-free donor dollars.

The SPLC will be releasing its latest IRS Form 990 shortly, so we’ll get to see how much 2020’s haul from the donors was soon enough. If recent totals are any indication, it should be another hefty year for the company’s coffers:

2019: $117 million
2018: $122 million
2017: $133 million
2016: $53 million*

Before we get into the latest numbers we need to repeat some boilerplate information for our many new readers.

  1. There is no legal definition for a “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, cannot designate “hate groups.” There isn’t even a universal definition for “hate,” so what exactly is the SPLC allegedly tracking?
  2. The SPLC’s own spurious definition, “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics” essentially boils down to “All hate groups say mean things about other groups,” is so intentionally elastic that it can be applied to almost anyone.
  3. In 2019, Senior US District Court Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the SPLC’s “hate group” label is merely the company’s “opinion,” and therefore protected by the First Amendment.
  4. The Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc. is a private 501(c)3 tax-exempt corporation. It has no mandate, no authority, legal or moral, to designate anyone as anything. Again, such designations are merely the company’s “opinion.”

    The company receives no external review or oversight
    . In 1994, the SPLC’s hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, ran a 10-day exposé of the company which revealed that its Board of Directors was packed with cronies and employees of SPLC founder, Morris Dees. Some of these rubber-stampers were still on the Board some twenty-five years later, at the time of Dees’ firing under allegations of long-term sexual harassment of female employees.
  5. Mark Potok, the SPLC’s Intelligence Director for twenty years and the creator of the “Hate Map” tool has stated repeatedly that:

    Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity.”

    “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

    Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” (Seriously. The SPLC deliberately conflates six of the most fundamental civil rights protected by the First Amendment with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities.”)

    Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list.” (SPLC Hate Map, 2015)

    “An online presence isn’t enough to be added to the list; a group has to meet at least once a year at a physical location.” (SPLC Outreach Director Kate Chance, Feb. 21, 2019)

    Let me first of all say, that we do the “hate group” map and the counts, and so on, as a very rough measure… It’s an imperfect process.”

    “The numbers are absolutely soft,” said Mark Potok, a Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman. “We are talking about a tiny number of Americans who are members of hate groups – I mean, infinitesimal.” (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999).

    “We see this political struggle, right? …I mean we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them. Not to send them to prison unfairly or not take their free speech rights away… but as a political matter, to destroy them.”  (Holiday, 2008, track 13, https://archive.org/details/MarkPotok).

    “I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are. Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!” (Sept. 2007,  https://youtu.be/fnTz2ylJo_8)

    So what we really see out there in terms of violence from the radical right is by and large what we would call lone wolves, people operating on their own or with just one or two partners. As opposed to, you know, being some kind of organizational plan.”

And there you have it, right from the experts at the SPLC themselves. By the way, we know that the SPLC is staffed by “experts” because it clearly says so on the company’s website and fundraising literature. Let’s wade in and have a look at this latest “report.”

First off, 2020’s “hate group” count is down by 11% from 2019, from 940 to 838. Ups and downs like this are not unusual for the SPLC. As the sole arbiter of the insanely lucrative “hate group” label, the company can set the level anywhere it pleases and nobody in the Media will ask to see any proof whatsoever.

In 2011, the SPLC designated 1,018 alleged “hate groups,” an all-time record high which they naturally attributed to “A Black Man in the White House.” By 2014, halfway into President Obama’s second term, the number mysteriously plummeted to 784, a loss of 23%.

How can this be? It’s simple. The SPLC is keenly aware of “donor fatigue,” which is why they stopped taking Death Row appeal cases in the 1970s. The donors will gladly swallow claims of 1,018 “hate groups,” but it’s hard to keep the hysteria alive from year to year. Therefore, the SPLC will voluntarily cut back its “hate group” totals so that in a year or two it can sound the alarums about “explosive growth in hate” when they jack the numbers up again in some future campaign.

In 2018, “hate groups” allegedly set a new “all time record high” under President Trump. What the company neglected to mention was that, at 1,020, the new “record” was only two groups higher than President Obama’s numbers in 2011. The donors didn’t remember and the Media didn’t care. The excuse for 2020’s decline was exactly the same as for 2014, “hate groups are going online.”

The sheer beauty of the “online” canard is that there is no possible way to prove or disprove it. This is the same logic behind the SPLC’s oft-repeated claims that Donald Trump somehow “emboldened hate groups.” It’s a throwaway claim that perpetuates the company’s Fear and Outrage campaign with absolutely no risk that anyone in the Media is going to ask to see the evidence (not that anyone in the Media ever would).

Another HUGE fact to remember about the “Hate Map” is what the SPLC likes to designate as “Statewide” groups. “Statewide” simply refers to alleged groups for which the SPLC provides no corroborating information whatsoever. Not so much as a known city or town, or anything that a donor or journalist could use to verify the claim. Nothing.

The SPLC has been using “statewide” phantoms to pad out its numbers for decades. It’s a brilliant fundraising strategy. For example, the SPLC claims 42 alleged chapters of the Patriot Front for 2020, with one in Washington, DC, and the other 41 parceled out as “statewide” entities across various states. No evidence, no proof required. Thirty-five of the SPLC’s 36 Racist Skinhead groups are “statewide” phantoms! That’s 97% of the claim and nobody in the Media will challenge it.

Better still, when compared from year to year, the percentage of “statewide” phantoms in any one category continues to increase. As the chart below indicates (click to enlarge) in 2017 “only” 39% of alleged Ku Klux Klan chapters were “statewide” phantoms, but by 2020 they accounted for nearly half. In 2017, 35% of alleged White Nationalist “groups” were homeless. By 2020 the number had jumped to 61%. The company is losing its “hate groups” faster than it can designate them.

“Statewide” phantoms since 2017 – Click to Enlarge

While the SPLC would prefer that people (donors) forget about previous claims, we like to keep track of such things. You never know what the experts at the SPLC are going to tell you over time. For example, in the chart above, alleged group counts in red indicate an increase from the previous year. Those highlighted in yellow indicate a decline and those in blue indicate no change at all from the previous year. Since 2017 the decreases have outnumbered the increases significantly, and even the increases are fairly minor compared to the previous year, with one glaring exception.

For 2020, the SPLC stopped counting Black and Black Muslim “hate groups” as “Black hate groups.” While it’s perfectly acceptable, even righteous, to count White Nationalist “groups” because they believe that whites are superior to non-whites, and Christian Identity “groups” because they believe that Christians are superior to heathen non-believers, you can’t draw attention to your 70-odd Nation of Islam chapters as “hate groups,” even though their racial and religious identities form the entire bases of their association. It confuses the donors, which is bad for business.

You see, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Black people aren’t like other human beings and must be treated differently. Black “hate” isn’t really hate and the fact that Black “hate groups” are the largest single and fastest growing category on the map was proving to be problematic.

As with previous years, 2020’s 264 alleged Black “hate groups” outnumbered all 252 of the SPLC’s KKK, neo-Nazi, racist skinhead and white nationalist groups for that year COMBINED.

When you strip out the homeless “statewide” phantoms from both sides, that ratio jumps to 3.5-to-1, or 252 to 82. What were the donors to make of that?

The solution was simplicity itself. If “Black hate groups” are the problem, simply call them something else, otherwise you’d have to erase another 32% of your groups from the map.

So for 2020, the SPLC’s 264 alleged “Black hate groups” and 7 alleged Holocaust Denial “groups were shoved into the delightfully generic “General Hate” category. They are still the same groups, with a few extras thrown in, but they’re not Black anymore. Get it?

This creative accounting brings up another fascinating factoid: According to the SPLC’s own dire numbers, and despite five straight years of hysterical claims that “Donald Trump empowers hate groups!!!,” it turns out that nearly every single category of SPLC-designated “hate group” has DECLINED since 2017, i.e., during the Trump administration. Behold!

“Hate Group” declines under Trump – Click to Enlarge

Granted, claiming that all Black and Holocaust denial “groups” simply evaporated during Donald Trump’s watch is inherently disingenuous, but while the Holocausters remained steady at seven alleged chapters, Black “hate groups” actually increased by 4% in 2020 and when those numbers are returned to their traditional categories the bloated General Hate category actually decreased by 21% over the previous year.

Remember folks, these are the SPLC’s own impeccable numbers, not ours.

Speaking of numbers, how many hate-filled individuals does it actually take to compose a “group”? Obviously, the SPLC isn’t going to come right and say “X-number or more” because that would require, you know, proof. Let’s see what the experts have to say, starting off with Mark Potok again:

“Potok says inclusion on the list might come from a minor presence, such as a post office box.” (www.sanluisobispo.com, March 25, 2009)

“Potok acknowledged that some of the groups may be small and said it is impossible for outsiders to gauge the membership of most of the groups.” (David Crary, Associated Press Online, March 10, 2008)

In 2015, Mark Potok assigned 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, (a state that doesn’t get enough negative publicity as it is…), giving that state the fourth highest total in the land and causing Mark Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League to publicly denounce the SPLC’s bogus counts.

“The Southern Poverty Law Center’s list is wildly inflated,” said Pitcavage. “They list skinhead groups in places where there are no organized groups, but instead it’s just a couple of individuals.”

After being publicly outed by the ADL, the SPLC slashed New Jersey’s count from 40 to 21 on the next “Hate Map,” which was not issued until a full fundraising year later.

In 2017, Mr. Potok’s successor as Intelligence Director, Heidi Beirich, read a single online post on a Klan website by an individual who said he lived in the town of Gurnee, Illinois. That was all it took for Gurnee to earn its very own Scarlet H “hate group” designation.

That same year, Ms. Beirich read another anonymous blog post by an individual who opined that Amana, Iowa would be a great place to hold a neo-Nazi meeting and… wait for it… Amana had a “hate group.” That’s all it took. In fact, no meeting of neo-Nazis ever took place in 2017 or since.

What makes the Amana case even more ludicrous is that the village was founded by German Pietist immigrants in the 1840s, who later formed the Amana appliance corporation in the 1930s. The Amana Colonies exist today as a popular tourist destination listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. Amana is populated by costumed interpreters who demonstrate 19th century farm life.

Both Amana and Gurnee are heavily dependent on tourism, with the latter employing some 3,000 people at its Six Flags location. Who would take their family to a town with an “SPLC-certified hate group”? According to Politico, when the mayors of both villages complained to the SPLC they were met with indifferent shrugs and informed that the company’s “hate group” numbers are fixed and cannot be changed until the new map comes out the following year.

Amana did receive a reprieve of sorts, when Ms. Beirich reluctantly agreed to move the fictitious neo-Nazi group-of-one from Amana to “Statewide,” but Iowa maintained all four of its alleged “hate groups” for the entire year.

Not only is the “Hate Map” populated by numerous one-man “groups,” the list is also rife with one-man websites, something the company categorically states that it does not count. Remember their claim, “Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list“? Some past and current examples:

Rense Radio Network (Since 2015)
carolynyeager,net (Since 2013)
Casa D’Ice Signs (2010-2015)
Free Edgar Steele (2010-2015)
Christ or Chaos (Since 2011)
Bob’s Underground Graduate Seminar/BUGS (2013-2017)
Sultan Knish a blog by Daniel Greenfield (2011-2016)
White Rabbit Radio (Since 2013)
Bomb Islam (Since 2016)
Wildman’s Civil War Surplus and Herb Shop (2018)

While these are only a few of the many one-man web groups the SPLC has claimed over the years, the top prize has to go to The Daily Stormer, which, to be absolutely clear, was a bona fide neo-Nazi blog, make no mistake about it. The sheer marketing genius of this claim deserves a closer look.

In 2015, Mark Potok told the OC Register “We make a big effort to separate a man, his dog and a computer from a group with on-the-ground activity.”

Also in 2015, Mr. Potok described The Daily Stormer to Esquire magazine as “mostly Andrew Angelin, his dog, and a computer,” with one single, one-man “group” based in Ohio.

In 2016, Potok counted 32 iterations of The Daily Stormer one-man website, including the ridiculous “hate group” Heidi Beirich assigned to Amana, Iowa, and one “statewide” phantom in New York State.

By 2017, there were still 32 alleged Stormer “groups,” only now all but the Ohio home base were “statewide” phantoms.

2018 saw the list shrink to 22 iterations, with all but the Ohio “group” listed as “statewide,” and by 2019, the lucrative franchise (at least for the SPLC) collapsed to a mere ten chapters, and even the Ohio iteration had gone AWOL.

As of 2020, The Daily Stormer has morphed back into the one-man blog it has always been and is counted among Ohio’s 21 alleged “groups,” even though Mr. Angelin fled the country to parts unknown in 2016 and the website now sports a .su domain name, which would seemingly put it somewhere in the Soviet Union.

You really have to tip your hat to such marketing ingenuity. Since 2015, the SPLC has counted a single one-man blog, something Mark Potok swore that the company does not count, 98 times and the Media never once questioned it.

And so, there we have it. Another year and another SPLC “Hate Map” fundraising tool. In the aftermath of the near collapse of the company in 2019, with the scandalous firing of its founder, Morris Dees, and the suspiciously hasty resignations of SPLC President Richard Cohen and Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein just one week later, we briefly toyed with the idea that the company might have turned a corner and was heading back to its civil rights roots. It had, after all, finally diversified its Executive Suite after a 49-year “whites only” policy set in place by Dees and rigorously enforced by Cohen and the company’s Board of Directors.

Sadly, it was not to be. While the same Board that had kept Dees and Cohen in power for decades quickly named one of its own, Karen Baynes-Dunning as interim president until it could hire the equally diverse Margaret Huang, the company still saw fit to reward Dees, Cohen and Brownstein with more than a million donor-dollars in severance pay in 2019, despite the shame and ignominy they brought to the brand name.

The simple fact is that the annual “Hate Map” fundraising tool brings in too much money to walk away from, even though the SPLC has more than half a billion dollars in cash reserves. It’s no conspiracy. Like everything else about the Southern Poverty Law Center, the spurious “hate group” designations are simply part of the business of selling fear.


Twitter and Corporate Censorship

January 13, 2021

Yesterday, January 12, 2021, Forbes magazine published a guest commentary by veteran stock analyst Jim Collins on its website that criticized Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s unilateral decision to de-platform President Trump, while urging users to dump the social media platform and short sell its stock.

Today, the article has been pulled down, sort of, under the fig leaf that it violated Forbes’ terms of service. If you click on the article URL below the piece will still come up (as of this writing), only to fade to near-white in seconds as an editor’s note stating that the page is no longer active fades into view.

This leads us to wonder how the piece got posted in the first place, considering Collins makes no bones about his opinion of Dorsey, “I think that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is a pathological liar as well as a horrible human being, so I don’t  believe Twitter’s user numbers at all.”

You also have to wonder why the article still exists on Forbes’ website? You can still make it out behind the editor’s note. Why not just pull it and be done with it.

Fortunately, we were able to save a copy of Jim Collin’s verboten article, which you can read below, before the corporate censors could erase it. Read it for yourselves and come to your own conclusions, which is the last thing the Media companies want you to do.

While we have no dealings with the stock market, we think Jim Collins closes his piece with sound advice for everyone: “Only you and I can fight that war and destroy Twitter’s base.  So, delete your account, and short the stock.  Making money while doing the right thing feels extra good…doesn’t it?”

********************************************

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcollins/2021/01/11/twitter-is-the-worst-company-on-planet-earth–heres-how-to-bet-against-the-stock-and-deactivate-your-account/?sh=19ed2d305ba3

Twitter Is The Worst Company On Planet Earth. Here’s How To Bet Against The Stock—and Deactivate Your Account

Jim Collins 10:49am EST

It is rare a that a public company stretches so far into the realm of abhorrent behavior, but Twitter’s TWTR -2.4% actions last week revulsed me more than Union Carbide’s Bhopal, Boeing’s BA +0.8% repeated failures with the 787 Max, J&J’s JILL +5.5% Tylenol scandal and really any other corporate action I have seen in my lifetime.

For a social media platform to censor a world leader—while still giving a voice to preachers of hate like Louis Farrakhan Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei and even O.J. Simpson—isn’t just wrong from a free speech perspective, it’s actually terrible business.  So, Twitter has shown little to no sequential growth in its user base of late (details below) but it is still valued like its Big Tech growth-y brethren.  Twitter is not growing, it is shrinking, if measured versus the growth rate of the global economy, and that reduction will accelerate dramatically now that Twitter has offended every Conservative in America with its action to ban President Trump. Only fools in Congress and Big Tech apologists would think that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should apply to Twitter.  It is a publisher, not a platform.  Full stop.

So, first and foremost, here is how to deactivate your Twitter account.  I used this excellent article from the Today show last week to kill my account.  It took me more than half an hour, and making it difficult to leave is a classic Big Tech strategy for bolstering user numbers, but eventually I succeeded.  It was worth it.  I will never use that platform again.  

But I do stocks, not activism, and even if a new type of conscious capitalism is my investment strategy for 2021, I still need to make some money. Twitter shares are plunging 7% in pre-market trading Monday, and the market will soon realize that this platform is going to shrink dramatically.  Even on a good day, Twitter is a cesspool of hate speech, lies (including investment advice) and a “trending” algorithm that seems to have a remarkably consistent left-wing bias. I will not be the last person to cancel it. 

I have never interacted with an ad on Twitter (or Facebook) and I would never spend a dime with a company that tried to reach me through a private social media channel. I don’t do “cancel culture” but I believe Twitter will become radioactive for advertisers, as half the US is revolted by what they have done, and that’s not good for business. 

Twitter’s self-reported user base grew at a whopping 1% sequentially in 3Q20, with 1% growth internationally and 0% in the U.S.  The comparisons were much better on a year-on-year basis (+29% overall) but remember that 2020 was an extraordinary year for news flow.  But Twitter is not news.  I think that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is a pathological liar as well as a horrible human being, so I don’t  believe Twitter’s user numbers at all.  The mDAU metric that Twitter now uses reflects, and clearly they will keep changing metrics until they find one that looks decent.  This is a classic Big Tech maneuver.  

In dollars, though, Twitter generated $936 million (million, not billion, this is a small company) in revenues in the third quarter and produced a very low (for Big Tech) 6% operating margin and 3% net margin. So, after a whopping $1 billion loss in Q2, Twitter recovered to make $28 million in the third quarter.  Wow!  That’s just…irrelevant.

With negative free cash flow of $74 million in Q3,  but $7.6 billion of cash and securities on the balance sheet, Twitter is worth more than zero, but extraordinarily less than the $51.48 per share the market was according TWTR stock Friday.  Yes, we have completely forgotten how to value stocks.  Twitter is not the only one but it is the easy one. 

With earnings power of less than $1 billion (TWTR reported net income of $1.469 billion in 2019 and will be nowhere near that in 2020) I think this is a steady-state stock.  No growth, no dividend, and no free cash flow to speak of.  That doesn’t deserve even a market multiple, but since it’s tech, let’s give TWTR the insane 25x real earnings power that the S&P 500 is granted.  So, add about $5 billion cash (net of debt,) a real cash earnings power of about $750 annually and use the 800 million shares outstanding as of 9/30 and you get a fair value for Twitter of just below $30 per share. But Twitter’s user base has shrunk dramatically in the past week, I believe, and so $30 is really more of a best-case scenario on earnings power that won’t exist with a smaller user base.  

So, let’s say someone thought TWTR’s fair value was in the high-$20s and would pay $20 for TWTR, to imply an attractive return, and use that as our share price target,  That implies a decline of more than 50% from current levels.  How long will it take to get there?  Not long in my opinion.  Plus, when trading options, you have to take into account the overreaction that always occurs with an inflective event.  Do I think Twitter shares will trade below $20, at least temporarily at some point between now and the end of March?  Hell, yeah.

So, when searching for that perfect option contract, always look for one with a decent amount of  contracts outstanding (which implies a more efficiently-priced contract) and a relatively low implied volatility, I see March 19th 2021 TWTR $25 puts quoted at $0.13 this morning, and, man, I gotta get me some of that.  Pre-market quotes are notoriously unreliable for deep-out-of-the-money options contracts, so let the market open and let it trade a little before you buy,  That’s what I will do today for my personal account and for my most risk-aware clients.  

So, that’s how to make money betting against Twitter.  The new conscious capitalism of 2021 entails fighting Big Tech censorship and the monopolistic power that those companies wield.  Not only is Jack Dorsey at Twitter a revolting human stain (as proven by this Congressional testimony and takedown by Senator Ted Cruz) his company isn’t that big or growing that fast—and is about to shrink.  I am uncomfortable sometimes with Amazon’s AMZN +0.2% power, but I won’t be unsubscribing from Prime any time soon, and I don’t have the guts to bet against Jeff Bezos’ stock. But Dorsey is not Bezos and TWTR is no AMZN.  

Twitter is a faux-tech outfit with no competitive moat and a customer base filled with—it would seem—idiots.  It’s too small to be considered Big Tech, but the media has given it outsized influence.   Only you and I can fight that war and destroy Twitter’s base.  So, delete your account, and short the stock.  Making money while doing the right thing feels extra good…doesn’t it?

Laird Wilcox on Militia Hysteria

October 14, 2020

The Hate Industry has been pumping out alarming militia stories with regimented precision that any ersatz colonel would envy. The predictable result is a fear and outrage campaign that sends a lot of money to the Media industry, private “advocacy” companies, and certain political parties.

The last time the US saw this kind of militia feeding frenzy was in 1995, immediately after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In the days following the deadly blast, veteran political researcher Laird Wilcox wrote an Op-Ed piece on the reality of the Militia Movement that could have, and arguably should have, been written last week.

Wilcox’s article was published in Newsday and other papers. It has been 25 years since Oklahoma City but the facts about militias have changed little, with the exception of the introduction of the Internet to the Hate Industry toolbox.


Most members are law-abiding, but an extremist minority may react violently to what it sees as renewed McCarthyism. – Laird Wilcox, May 1995

Not since the Red Scare of the 1920s has a political minority been under as much hostile scrutiny as the right-wing militia movement is today. The Oklahoma City bombing – the worst incident of domestic terrorism in American history – quickly focused on a man with ephemeral links to a militia group in Michigan. This link, however, consists largely of the fact that he was denied membership in the group, not that he was an active member acting under its direction. The bombing, in fact, appears to be the action of a psychopathic ex-soldier and a few confederates acting on their own.

It’s difficult to imagine what the average militia member felt as events unfolded last week, but it must have been excruciatingly uncomfortable for him. Sure, militia members spout conspiratorial rhetoric and uniform hostility toward a federal government they feel is getting out of hand. But I think it’s safe to say virtually none of them condoned the bombing and all were horrified to find their movement linked with it.

These are people, after all, with the same response to cold-blooded murder as you or I. But in their case, the horror evolved into a conspiracy theory that the government or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was responsible for the bombing in order to pin it on the militias and bring them down.

Still, the question remains: Are militias dangerous? The answer is, it depends; if they weren’t before, they may very well be now. What may up the ante is the incredible law enforcement attention the movement is getting. I think the militias will experience a precipitous decline in membership over the next few months, because of the growing social pressures on identified militia people and their families. Already they are being called “baby killers” and treated like pariahs in some communities.

This leaves only the die-hards as militia members, and they have been, to borrow a ‘60s term, “radicalized.” So it is individuals, not groups, we have to fear, and the hot button is the pressure law enforcement exerts.

Who constitutes militias? We read of neo-Nazi skinhead and Ku Klux Klan influence, but my investigation shows little of that. In fact, most militias refuse membership to people like Timothy McVeigh, who talk racism or terrorism. What militias are rife with are guns and conspiracy theories – which most believers have difficulty explaining. Are militias enormous, as some claims suggest? Not at all. Militia leaders routinely lie about support and membership and absurd figures as high as two million are claimed. But no responsible source has suggested a total of more than 10,000 nationwide, and I think it’s half that. What I see is 2,000 to 3,000 hard-core activists, meaning people who regularly come to meetings, pay dues, take part in maneuvers and put out the newsletter. Another 3,000 to 4,000 maintain some tie but are not deeply involved. So roughly one American in 40,000 is a member.

Are militias fascist? I doubt it simply because of the strong anarchist thread that runs through the movement. Like all radical right-wingers, militia members are a contentious, highly individualistic and idiosyncratic lot. They don’t get along well with one another and many tiny militias are splinters from others. One member said that leading the militia was like trying to herd cats.

The relative dangerousness of a group or movement further may be judged  from the social groupings from which it draws its membership. Urban gangs, for example, are drawn from young unattached males with no jobs, property or prospects. This is the crime- and violence-prone segment of society. The mainstream militias, in contrast, are drawn from working and lower-middle class males aged 30 to 50, with wives, jobs, homes and kids in school. This is not a crime-producing segment of society. I think a study of militia members would show a crime rate equal to or even less than that of the country as a whole.

The result is that when members get into trouble with the law, it’s usually for some “protest” crime, like refusing to get dog tags or not paying taxes on their trucks. Because of their obsession with gun rights, militia members have been charged with various weapons-possession offenses. But rarely are they charged with serious crimes of violence.

This leaves those die-hard individuals. What direction they go in next, in a sense, depends on the rest of us. Often, the worst damage terrorists or extremist inflict on our society is the threat society imposes upon itself out of fear and overreaction.

Right now, we’re at a dangerous crossroads: The media linkage of the Oklahoma bombing with right-wing politics has the makings of a witch hunt on a scale we haven’t seen since Moe McCarthy. Even our president has tried to link conservative talk show hosts to the bombing. This means that anybody with an American flag on the lawn may soon be suspect, and this kind of paranoia is not something to inflict on the already afflicted.

Also, the deleterious effects on civil liberties of proposed anti-terrorism legislation in Washington are being protested by a small number of honest civil libertarians. Increased use of wiretaps, break-ins, infiltration and surveillance are not encouraging sings and will play into the worst fears of conspiracy theorists, left or right. I hope we take some time to think this through before we start making mistakes, but so far I’m not encouraged.

Laird Wilcox is coauthor of “Nazis, Communists, Klansmen and Others on the Fringe.” At the University of Kansas, he founded a major collection of extremist political literature. He wrote this for Newsday.

Althea Bernstein: “Case Closed”

October 4, 2020

On August 1, 2020, Watching the Watchdogs reported the story of Althea Bernstein, an 18-year-old bi-racial woman who claimed she had been set on fire by “four white frat boys” at a stop light in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, in the early hours of June 24.

Three months later, after hundreds of hours of investigation by both the Madison Police Department and the FBI, both agencies officially closed their respective cases on October 1, citing a complete lack of evidence.

Madison Police Department press release: “After an exhaustive probe, detectives were unable to corroborate or locate evidence consistent with what was reported.”

“Case findings were also reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Wisconsin and the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Both independently evaluated the facts and reached the same conclusion as MPD.”

US Department of Justice press release: “After a thorough investigation into the events of June 24, 2020, including extensive interviews, exhaustive review of traffic and surveillance video, and expert review of digital and forensic evidence, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove that a violation of any federal criminal statute occurred.

Further, after reviewing all available evidence, authorities could not establish that the attack, as alleged by the complainant, had occurred. Accordingly, the federal investigation into this incident has been closed based on the lack of evidence.”

While both press releases are careful to state that neither agency could conclusively prove that the attack occurred, MPD Detective Justine Harris, who has been investigating the case from the beginning, concludes her 157-page final report:

“I explained to [Bernstein family attorney] Sumpter that based on the extensive video footage we had reviewed, combined with the GPS data that identified where Bernstein was at specific points in time, we were confident that we had identified Bernstein’s car as it traveled through the downtown Madison area and out to Middleton. I explained that in watching this vehicle travel along its route, there were specific factors that led us to conclude that what Bernstein had described did not occur.” (Supplemental narrative, p. 155)

Attorney Sumpter later released a statement on behalf of the Bernstein family: “Althea Bernstein and her family appreciate the detailed investigative efforts by all involved in this case. Althea’s injuries are healing and the support of our community has been invaluable in that regard. We continue to maintain our family privacy and will not be granting interviews at this time.

The family of the alleged victim of one of the most egregious “hate crimes” of the century seem to be taking the news rather calmly.

It’s gratifying to know that the Bernstein family appreciates the hundreds of hours invested by Madison and federal investigators. The thousands of people who donated to a $10,000 GoFundMe site set up for Bernstein can request a refund (no further donations are being accepted). Good Morning America, Megan Markle and the NFL, who all piled on to the “hate crime” bandwagon before police had completed their investigation, will no doubt remain silent on the matter until it all goes away.

And so another alleged hate crime hoax wends its way toward the Memory Hole. Madison Police have determined that they will not be charging Althea Bernstein with filing a false report even though she obviously filed a false report.

Hate crime hoaxes will never go away until the perpetrators face actual repercussions for their actions and until the click-bait Media industry is held responsible for perpetuating unfounded claims for profit.

As veteran researcher Laird Wilcox noted in his seminal book, “Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America “:

“What can be done about hoaxes? Probably very little as long as victimization claims are so uncritically accepted, and the payoff for alleged victimization is sufficiently tempting and rewarding “

Hate crime” legislation, although well-intentioned, has created a powerful market for the side benefits of alleged hate crimes. When these crimes are not naturally occurring, or are not occurring in sufficient numbers, a motive to commit hoaxes is created.

Our thanks to our friends at the fakehatecrimes.org website for bringing this breaking news to our attention.

More on this story to follow.

The Mysterious Case of Althea Bernstein

August 1, 2020

[Spoiler Alert! The latest developments in the Bernstein case can be found here (October 4, 2020]

Early on the morning of June 24, 2020, 18-year-old Althea Bernstein claims she was stopped at a red light in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, when she was allegedly approached by four white men, (described by Bernstein as “classic Wisconsin frat boys”), who “shouted the N-word” at her and sprayed her face and neck with lighter fluid and “allegedly tossed a flaming lighter at her,” igniting the fluid. Bernstein claims that she then “patted out the flames and eventually drove home,” where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.”

Such an unprovoked attack would be heinous enough to begin with, but because Althea Bernstein is bi-racial the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Add in the fact that Bernstein’s father is Jewish and you have a hate crime two-fer on your hands.

Bernsteins

Althea Bernstein and her father in 2017

While we at Watching the Watchdogs are willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and take their allegations as true until proven otherwise, the Bernstein case has been exhibiting many signs of being a potential hate crime hoax from the beginning. Far from “blaming the victim,” a closer look at the claims and reporting of the incident are in order.

  1. The alleged attack took place at 1:00 a.m. in the morning during a violent BLM “protest” in downtown Madison.
  2. Bernstein says she was on her way to visit her brother in nearby Middleton at 1:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
  3. Despite driving downtown in a large city in the middle of the night, during a riot, Bernstein reports that she had her driver side window down while stopped at the red light.
  4. When the “four white frat boys” approached the window of her car, one of them produced a “spray bottle” of lighter fluid and proceeded to spray Bernstein in the face, miraculously missing the young woman’s eyes.
  5. Bernstein says that one of the boys “threw a lit lighter” at her to ignite the fluid. Since disposable butane lighters go out when released, one must assume that this lighter must have been of an old-time Zippo-like design. The cheapest Zippo lighters on Amazon.com retail for $16.95 and tend to pick up the user’s fingerprints, making them both rather pricey and incriminating to be thrown away in an arson attack. No lighter was found in Bernstein’s vehicle.
  6. Bernstein says that despite being the victim of an alleged hate crime, she continued to her brother’s house and then went home, where her mother “encouraged her to go the hospital.” Bernstein finally called the police at 5:45 p.m., nearly 17 hours after the alleged attack, on the police department’s non-emergency phone line.You can listen to the full call here.
  7. Bernstein drove herself to the Emergency Room.
  8. After an initial spate of media reports, including an interview with Good Morning America, and a high-profile call of support and solidarity from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Bernstein and her family have been silent on the alleged attack ever since, on the advice of their family attorney.
  9. A GoFundMe site, approved by the Bernstein family, has raised nearly $10,000 for the victim, but the family has directed that the money be turned over to charity.
  10. Despite allegedly taking place within a block of the Wisconsin State Capitol building, during a “violent protest,” the four attackers, two dressed all in black and two in flowered shirts, have yet to appear on any security or surveillance camera footage, as of this writing.

Granted, all of the above is circumstantial evidence, neither proving nor disproving Ms. Bernstein’s claim, but there certainly is a significant amount of it.

Naturally, the Media, smelling a potential hate crime, jumped on the story with gusto, and, before the police investigation had even begun, had determined that every word of Bernstein’s allegations were true. Google “Althea Bernstein” and see how many times the word “alleged” appears in the hundreds of results. 

Interestingly, even Ms. Bernstein’s own mother seems to be in favor of exaggerating the story. While Bernstein’s appearance on Good Morning America clearly shows burn marks on the left side of her face, the side facing the driver’s window, a Facebook post by Rebecca Bernstein shows (identical) burns on both sides of Althea’s face!

 

althea-bernstein-gma2-1593448141

Bernstein on Good Morning America

Bernstein mother

Any 10-year old with a smart phone can reverse an image but you have to do it intentionally. Why would the mother of an alleged double hate crime attack deliberately alter photos of her daughter’s injuries?

In another interesting coincidence, also occurring at 1:00 a.m. in downtown Madison, a group of “peaceful protesters” were fire bombing the Madison City-County building just a few hundred yards from the intersection where Ms. Bernstein claimed she was burned by four racist frat boys.

Madison City-County building

Unlike Ms. Bernstein’s case, this arson attack was captured by surveillance cameras. Also captured sometime later was 26-year-old Marquon Clark, a “person of interest” in connection with the attack on the municipal building.

Madison Arson Suspect

REWARD: @ATFStPaul is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for info leading to the ID/arrest a man believed to be responsible for the fire-bombing at a downtown Madison government building early this morning. Call (608) 266-6014 @madisonpolice @MadisonWIFire @USAO_WDWI

[Update, 8/4/20. A June 24 tweet by the ATF included the closeup image of the “person of interest” spraying the Madison City-County building with what appears to be charcoal lighter fluid.]

Marquon Clark

Marquon Clark

Ironically, the Molotov cocktail lobbed into the building forced the evacuation of Madison’s 9-1-1 response center, so it’s probably a good thing Ms. Bernstein waited seventeen hours to report her attack on the non-emergency line and eventually drove herself to the hospital.

[During the “peaceful protests” that night, two statues were pulled down and a Wisconsin state senator, 60-year-old Democrat Tim Carpenter, was violently attacked by the mob.

Ironically, (there’s that word again…) one of the statues was a likeness of Col. Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian immigrant and vocal abolitionist, who died leading his Union regiment into battle against evil Confederate troops in 1863.

The other statue, actually an allegory of Progress titled “Forward,” was of a woman, sculpted by a woman artist, Jean Pond Minor, and was paid for by local women’s groups.

Sen. Carpenter describes himself as a Gay Progressive. “Sad thing is I’m on their side for peaceful protests,” Carpenter later observed.

Apparently, they don’t make “social justice” like they used to anymore.

When Madison officials held a press conference on the afternoon of the 24th to decry the senseless violence and vandalism social media and the Blogosphere pounced, accusing them of caring more about statues than for Althea Bernstein. The press conference was held at 4:00 p.m. Ms. Bernstein didn’t get around to reporting her alleged attack until 5:45 p.m. (8/11/20)]

Again, this is more circumstantial evidence, and as we always remind our readers, correlation in no way implies causation. Just because youthful “protesters” were lobbing flaming liquids around in the vicinity does not necessarily mean that Ms. Bernstein got splashed there and made up the “frat boy” story to cover her actions, but it sure seems like we’ve heard this song before.

Of course, the Jussie Smollett case from 2019 comes to mind. The gay Black actor claimed that he was attacked at 2:30 a.m., on the coldest night of the year (in Chicago!), by two white men (pictured below), who beat him up, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck while shouting “This is MAGA country!” (in Chicago!). Smollett’s case is still pending as of this writing. Smollett was allegedly hoping to create some favorable, or at least sympathetic, publicity to bolster his acting career.

Smollett Brothers

Smollett’s confessed “attackers”

Also in 2019, 12-year-old Amari Allen swore that three white boys held her down on the school playground and cut off her dreadlocks, calling them “nappy,” except it never happened.

In 2017, 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, of Manhattan, Kansas, reported to police that his car had been vandalized with racist slurs. It had been… by Dauntarius Williams.

In 2016, 18-year-old Yasmin Seweid told police she had been attacked on a New York City subway platform by three white men who yelled “Donald Trump!” while attempting to pull off her hijab head scarf. Seweid later confessed to making the whole story up to cover her late night out drinking with her Christian boyfriend. While the court sentenced her to counseling, her father, who apparently didn’t want his underage daughter drinking alcohol or dating Christians, forced her to shave her head.

Seweid

Seweid and her father appear in court, 2016

Long-time Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our post concerning 20-year-old Sharmeka Moffitt from 2012, who claimed that she was walking alone in Louisiana park one night when three white men in hoodies doused her with a flammable liquid and set her alight, causing third degree burns on her body. Her car was vandalized with “KKK” and the “N-word” written on it… in toothpaste.

Moffitt

Ms. Moffitt

Police responded to Ms. Moffitt’s 911 call in less than a minute and found no suspects matching her description. After completing their investigation, police report finding only Ms. Moffitt’s fingerprints on a cigarette lighter and lighter fluid container. The toothpaste was determined to contain evidence of female DNA only. A year later, Moffitt pleaded guilty to one count of terrorizing and one count of false swearing, receiving a ten-year suspended sentence. No reason for the hoax was given.

Also from 2012, we reported on one of the most heinous hate crimes of the century. Michigan State University student Zachary Tennen, 19, was at a college party one night, minding his own business, when two white males, with shaven heads, approached him and asked him if he was Jewish. When Tennen replied that he was, the two bald men informed him that they were with the local Ku Klux Klan, then “made Nazi gestures” and proceeded to beat poor Zachary senseless, breaking his jaw in the process and… stapling his mouth shut after the attack! And the crowd of party-goers stood by and did nothing.

Tennen

Zachary Tennen

Naturally, the Media was all over this story. It had absolutely everything a news editor could wish for. Nazis, Skinheads, the KKK and anti-Semitism galore. Plus they stapled the boy’s mouth shut!  Tennen’s father threatened to call in high-powered lawyers from the Anti-Defamation League to help him sue MSU if the evil Nazi-Klan-Skinheads were not brought to justice immediately.

And then the real story came out. Young Mr. Tennen admitted to being “drunk and high” at the party that night. Several female students attending the party reported that Mr. T. was being obnoxious, making unwanted advances and “getting grabby” (every woman reading this description knows exactly what was going on). One of the women complained to a male friend, who explained to Mr. Tennen that if he did not cut it out he was going to regret it.

Mr. Tennen did not heed the advice. He put his hands on another woman and the other male, who was not a Nazi, or a skinhead, or with the KKK, kept his word and with one single punch knocked Zachary out cold, fracturing his jaw in the process. The crowd failed to intervene in “the beating” not because they were inherently anti-Semitic, they did not intervene because the whole thing was over in the blink of an eye.

To date, no explanation has been given for the piece of wire found in Tennen’s mouth, but it was most likely part of a retainer or other dental device. Zachary Tennen’s mouth was never stapled shut.

Like many teenage hoaxers who panic and play the hate card, Tennen found himself in over his head with no way out.  In the photo above, Tennen is shown in the hospital with his jaws wired shut, recounting the fictitious “attack’ in a television interview, literally lying through his teeth. Tennen stuck with his story until it finally collapsed under its own incredulous weight.

When Zachary Tennen finally came clean about the events of that evening the silence was deafening. Because he was actually punched in the face at the party, the Lansing Police Department still considered it an assault, regardless if the hate crime details were fabricated, yet no charges were filed against the student who punched Tennen.

Michigan State University decided that since the assault occurred off-campus that it suddenly had no role to play in the proceedings and the Tennen family called off the ADL lawyers at the last minute, stating that “…justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time.” The end. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The point here is that hate crime hoaxes happen, and when they do happen the usual suspects rush in to capitalize on the initial claims and then going silent on the matter, as with the Althea Bernstein case, or making up some lame justification (“Yeah, well, it could have happened. Racists!”).

The Media and the Hate Industry players could care less if a story is true or not. They’ll make their money peddling the initial fear and outrage and there is a LOT of money to be made from that golden goose. After that, they will lie low until the next hoax comes along. It’s just business, folks. Very, very profitable business.

One final note, even the millionaires at the Southern Poverty Law Center, who have never met a “hate” claim they could not monetize, are staying clear of the Bernstein case. To date, the company has not said a word about the matter.

In all fairness, though, even the NAACP and Al Sharpton, who rose to fame propagating the Tawana Brawley hate crime hoax in 1987, have made no comments on the Bernstein story so far. Coincidence?

Stay tuned for updates on this mysterious case.

[Update — 9/22/20 — It has been 90 days since Ms. Bernstein claimed she was attacked by “four white frat boys” but Madison Police and the FBI have yet to turn up a single clue. No video. No witnesses. Nothing.

“As of Wednesday, [August 12, 2020], authorities confirmed that there is no new information to report concerning the alleged attack,” reported The Daily Wire website. “There is nothing new to release at this time,” [Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain] said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Two weeks after those reports were published, Ms. Bernstein turned up at another Madison protest, doubling down on her attack claim and addressing the crowd. “Does my skin color offend you? Does my success scare you? Does the fact that I’m a Black woman make you worried that change in [sic] going to happen?”

That quote came from an unnamed Associated Press reporter who made the entirely unverified claim that “One of the demonstrators was Althea Bernstein, the 18-year-old Black woman who was lit on fire as she sat in her car at a Madison intersection…” The term “allegedly” never appears once in the report, and it was reprinted by US News and World Report, who really ought to know better. Such is the sorry state of “journalism” today.

The media madness spilled into September, with The Clarion, school newspaper for the Madison Area Technical College, using the same attack-as-fact language in a highly sanitized story about a September 2 student protest on behalf of Althea Bernstein. Apparently, Ms. Bernstein was otherwise engaged that day and unable to attend the march and fundraiser in her honor.

On September 11, the National Football League released a list of approved “names of victims of police violence and systemic racism…” that NFL players could wear on their helmets to signify their virtue. The second name on that list (no doubt because she’s a woman) is Althea Bernstein.

One final note, the GoFundMe fundraiser we mentioned earlier was mysteriously closed on August 18, by its organizer, Linda Rogalski, having stalled at $9,818 dollars, meaning that no one had contributed since July.

The mysteries are several:

  1. Despite requiring ongoing medical attention for Althea’s burns, the Bernstein family, who approved the fundraiser, did not want to use the money to pay for medical costs. Instead, they wanted the money to go to charity.
  2. Ms. Rogalski writes that the money will actually be used to help Althea Bernstein purchase a “farmette” where she can rescue animals. The farm will be called “Timberdoodle Meadows.”

    And this applies to Ms. Bernstein’s alleged hate crime status how?

  3. The fundraiser fell short of its $10,000 goal, but only by a fraction. They raised 99.2% of the money, but strangely, Ms. Rogalski has included a link on the site where donors can ask for their money back, “Since it did not reach the goal amount for the campaign.”

    Really? “You only raised 99.2% of the money earmarked for a hate crime victim so I want a refund,” said nobody, ever.

  4. GoFundMe donations are available to the beneficiaries almost immediately, even during ongoing campaigns, and there is no deadline for closing a campaign, so why would you close it at all, especially when you are within spitting distance of the goal line?]

“Curiouser and curiouser.”

SPLC — Whither Lecia Brooks?

February 28, 2019

[Update: 6/01/19. The Return of Lecia Brooks! We have just discovered that Ms. Brooks is back to work at the SPLC in the role of “Chief Workplace Transformation Officer,” who “serves both the SPLC’s leadership and the staff to build a workplace culture of inclusiveness and ensure a sustainable infrastructure that supports the SPLC’s ongoing focus on diversity and equity.”

We wish Ms. Brooks well in this new position, with its title that only a Public Relations officer could love, though we have to worry about the sustainability of a job built around “transformation,” which by definition, ought to have a definite beginning and a quantifiable end point.

This is not an “ongoing focus.” Either the SPLC promotes minorities at the same rates and levels as its mostly white leadership or it does not.

On the other hand, such a temporary landing pad would serve nicely to segue Lecia Brooks into the role we first suggested back in 2018, as President of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  Time will tell.]

[Update: 3/23/19. Thanks to information provided by a reader, we now know that Lecia Brooks has relocated to the Equal Justice Initiative, (EJI.org), also of Montgomery, shortly before SPLC Founder Morris Dees was fired from the Southern Poverty Law Center. We wish her great success in her new endeavor.]

Has long-time Southern Poverty Law Center star Lecia Brooks left the auditorium? As we have noted on numerous occasions, Lecia Brooks was the only member of the company’s leadership staff to hold TWO concurrent directorships, one as Outreach Director and one as Director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center.

We have also noted that despite wearing two leadership hats, Ms. Brooks, who is Black and a lesbian, has NEVER been included among the company’s highest paid officers on annual IRS Form 990 tax reports.

A recent review of the SPLC’s “Leadership” page as of a week ago shows Ms. Brooks among the white millionaires who run the company:

Lecia1

February 20, 2019

And yet, one week later, Ms. Brooks is nowhere to be found, and her “About” page has been taken down as of this writing. Thanks to the magic that is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine it is possible to find that page from a week ago, which notes that she had joined the company in 2004.

Lecia2

February 28, 2019

And a new face has appeared on the latest “Leadership” page, that of Tafeni English, who is now listed as the Director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center. No mention is made of a new Outreach Director as of this time, nor are there any press releases on the SPLC website or online media mentioning the retirement of Ms. Brooks, who was one of the SPLC’s premier ambassadors.

Tafeni1

[Update (3/15/19) In a surprising palace coup, SPLC Founder Morris Dees has been fired by company president Richard Cohen for “improper conduct.” Leaked internal emails hint that Dees may have engaged in sexual misconduct and racist hiring/promotion policies. A yet-unnamed Black female attorney left the company recently, citing similar complaints. At any rate, two weeks after Lecia Brooks was airbrushed from the “Leadership” page, the Old Man himself is now conspicuously absent from the Politburo portrait gallery and his “about” page has been closed. Stay tuned for more news.]

March-15-2019-Leadership _ SPLC

March 15, 2019

[Update: an article in the Mankato (MN) Free Press from February 21, 2019, identifies another new face, Kate Chance, as the SPLC’s “Outreach Manager.” Whether the “manager” reports to, or ultimately replaces, the “director” is unclear at this time.]

Kate Chance

Kate Chance, Outreach Manager

The last time we saw a Pravda-esque “unpersoning” of this magnitude was in mid-2017, when the SPLC’s long-time Director of Intelligence, Mark Potok, was unceremoniously dumped after 20 years of highly lucrative service to the company.

Because Mr. Potok had been the face and voice of the SPLC for so many years, and his name was on so many articles and press releases, the company could not easily air-brush him into the Memory Hole, so they simply replaced his “Director of Intelligence” title with “former employee” for many months. Considering how much money Mr. Potok had brought into the company’s coffers over 20 years, the SPLC didn’t seem especially appreciative.

And now Lecia Brooks seems to be gone, after nearly 15 years with the company with no mention of her departure whatsoever. We certainly hope that it wasn’t anything that we at Watching the Watchdogs might have said. Last November we posted an op-ed that suggested that maybe it was time for the SPLC’s senior (literally…) leadership to consider “passing the torch” to a new generation by retiring while at the top of their game.

Lecia Brooks, who most represents the people the SPLC purports to serve, seemed the perfect choice as new president of the company, at least to us.

Hopefully the geriatric white male millionaires who run the SPLC didn’t take out their displeasure at our suggestion on Ms. Brooks. Time will tell.

 

 

SPLC — Cashing in on Charlottesville

August 19, 2017

While the violence and death at last week’s “Unite the Right” riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, was a national tragedy and a source of horror for most Americans, it follows as surely as the night follows day that the Southern Poverty Law Center would find a way to make money off it.

It was only a few weeks ago, in June, when the SPLC was writhing under some of the most negative media coverage it had possibly ever seen, in the wake of the GuideStar debacle. Reliable media allies such as Politico and the Wall Street Journal were openly criticizing GuideStar, a leading rating agency of non-profit organizations, for adding the SPLC’s spurious “hate group” label to dozens of its entries.

[The Politico article is one of the best exposés of the SPLC written in decades and well worth a read.]

Then came Charlottesville. The violent idiots on both sides of the fighting were right out of Central Casting and a godsend for the SPLC. Images of torchlight parades across the University of Virginia campus were tailor-made for the endless barrage of fundraising tweets, press releases, and, no doubt, fundraising letters. The cash has been pouring in ever since. The company will probably have to open several more off-shore bank accounts to house it all.

All of that paled in comparison to the tragedy of Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer’s death after being struck by a car that careered into a crowd on Saturday afternoon. Video footage of the incident gives an impression that the act may possibly have been intentional, and the driver of the car, James Fields, Jr., who was identified marching with white nationalists earlier in the day, is currently being held on charges of second-degree murder and several other counts.

Once Heyer’s name was released on the following day she was immediately canonized by the media and the Left, for their own financial and political purposes, but none of them could hold a candle to the Southern Poverty Law Center when it comes to monetizing murder.

Less than a week after Heyer’s death, the SPLC announced that it was “honoring Heather Heyer at Civil Rights Memorial Center.”

“Like the civil rights martyrs whose names are inscribed on the Civil Rights Memorial, Heather took a stand against hate and bigotry and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the SPLC, which built and maintains the memorial.”

Will Heyer’s name be immortalized on the SPLC’s “Martyr’s Monument,” a black granite disc designed by Vietnam Veterans Memorial artist Maya Lin? Well no, that monument cost the perpetually cash-strapped SPLC $5,000,000 in 1989 (nearly $10 million in today’s dollars.)

Instead, the SPLC is going to honor Heyer on its less-static and infinitely more economical “Wall of Tolerance.” Longtime Watching the Watchdogs readers may recall our 2016 investigation of the Wall of Tolerance fundraising scam. We found that, like the lucrative “Stand Strong Against Hate” map scam that preceded it, the Wall of Tolerance was little more than a fundraising tool designed to recruit new donors.

While invoking the names of the “civil rights martyrs,” the Wall of Tolerance scam is built solidly upon the age-old persuasion technique of “reciprocity,” in which an organization sends out free gifts to potential donors in the expectation that the recipients will feel obliged to make a donation. Many readers may remember receiving packs of return address labels from various veteran’s groups. It’s a simple, cost-effective method that has been around for decades.

In the Wall of Tolerance scam, prospective donors receive a suitable-for-framing certificate from the SPLC thanking them for joining the ranks of the civil rights martyrs by supporting the company in its never-ending “fight against hate.” In addition to the certificate, the recipient will be memorialized forever on the “Wall of Tolerance,” a 20-by-40-foot Jumbotron screen at SPLC headquarters, where hundreds of thousands of names drift autumn-leaf-like across the screen “as the gentle rain from heaven.”

Recipients, honored to be included among such auspicious company, feel obligated to send along a little something in appreciation. Others can add their names simply by passing along their personal contact information to the Fundraising Department.

As our report noted, at least one honoree, Marcus Epstein,  had the dual honor of having his own page on the SPLC website that denounced him as a racist. Oops!

SOFII, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, was hugely impressed by the elegant simplicity of the Wall of Tolerance:

SOFII’s view

The Southern Poverty Law Center, who launched this campaign, is a hugely impressive organisation with a long and well-deserved reputation for effective donor development.

Though we don’t have the results, we think we can presume that this direct mail capital appeal must have worked really very well.

Merits

This is one of the most moving and long-lasting donor involvement campaigns in the USA and represents some of the best that the direct marketer’s art can produce.

It cost the SPLC nothing to add Heather Heyer’s name to the Wall o’ Tolerance Jumbotron but the tax-free donor-dollars will be rolling in by the truckload for weeks and months.

Incidentally, Lecia Brooks, who is quoted above in the Heyer press release, holds two concurrent Directorships at the SPLC. One of the few African-Americans in the SPLC hierarchy, Double-Director Brooks has never been named among the company’s highest paid executives.

One wonders what Heather Heyer would have made of that?

SPLC — 2017 Telemarketing Scam

February 4, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its IRS Form 990 and Audited Financial Report for F/Y 2016, and as predicted, it was a very profitable year for the company.

Part of of that success comes from the SPLC’s use of third-party telemarketers who convince first-time donors that their money will be used to somehow “fight hate.” In reality, their money, and that of thousands of existing SPLC donors, will be used to fight poverty — for the telemarketers, that is.

As we’ve reported in years past, the SPLC pays these telemarketers far more than they raise over the phone. Last year the company paid telemarketers $2,266,887 donor-dollars to raise only $1,271,287 donor-dollars, for a net loss of $995,600 (p. 40).

2017-telemarketing-numbers

As usual, the big winner was Grassroots Campaigns who were paid $1.8 million to raise just over $600,000. Telefund only pocketed 62% of the $340,000 it raised, while Harris Marketing kept 83% of the $256,800 it took in.

Since 2011, the SPLC has paid Grassroots  $5,828,603 more than they received in donations. While it seems incongruous that a company like the SPLC, which is forever sending out fundraising letters, as “the need has never been greater,” would be able to survive such financial hemorrhaging, the truth is they’ll make a fortune from it.

In essence, the SPLC is paying the telemarketers for the personal information of thousands of proven first-time donors, which they will feed into their own uber-efficient in-house fundraising machine. They take a loss on the first year but make it up with years, or even decades of successive donations down the road, at a sweet 100% profit.

The company isn’t even taking that much of a hit, as all of the first-time donations go straight to the telemarketers and any deficit is made up out of the existing donor pot, without any of the donors being the wiser.

How many long-time donors does it take to make up a $955,600 “shortage”? At $100 a pop, just under 10,000 donors. At a more reasonable $25 donation rate, just under 40,000 well-meaning suckers.

Granted, the use of third-party telemarketers for such purposes is not illegal and is practiced by many of the largest non-profits in the country. It’s up to the potential donor to ask the solicitor how much of their money will actually reach the SPLC.

Since Grassroots is paid a flat fee, they can even tell Grandma with a straight face that all of her donation will go to “fight hate.” That the SPLC is only going to triple the amount and send it back to Grassroots is merely a minor detail.

We’ve only just made our first pass over the SPLC’s latest financials. Stay tuned for more information on where the money goes.

SPLC — Hoaxed Again!

December 22, 2016

In another ham-fisted fear campaign, the Southern Poverty Law Center has embarked on a series of unsubstantiated, unverified and largely anecdotal “reports” that claim hundreds of “hate incidents” (not to be confused with actual hate crimes) and over a thousand “incidents” have recently been reported across the country at large and hundreds more occurring within the nation’s school systems.

The undeniable cause of this effect? It could only be the hate-filled election of Donald Trump, right? What else could it be (that would still agitate the donors into forking over more money)?

As we have been reporting over the weeks since the election, neither SPLC “report” stands up to the slightest breath of fact checking. The company makes huge claims of receiving thousands of reports over a web page on their website where anyone in the world can “report an incident” and they themselves disclaim that their “Trump Effect” survey of “educators” is not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, there’s no mechanism to verify that the respondents were even “educators” and all of the responses were anecdotal.

The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.

Opening her report on “election-related bias” in the elementary schools, Teaching Tolerance’s Maureen Costello makes the bizarre claim that:

“Every student, from preschoolers up through high school, is aware of the tone, rhetoric and catch-phrases of this particular campaign season.”

Really, Maureen? Every student glued to the debates, watching Meet the Press over their weekend Lucky Charms and Pop Tarts? Even kindergartners? Really? Costello peppered her report with anonymous quotes to prove that Hell’s hand-basket has arrived. [Caution: Some readers may find the following graphic content disturbing.]

One Muslim girl clung to her kindergarten teacher on November 9 and asked, “Are they going to do anything to me? Am I safe?” – Early Childhood Teacher, Tennessee

A lesbian student’s mother was telling her that life as we knew it was over, and she was quite distraught about her mother. Children are very worried about being deported or killed. – Elementary Counselor, Illinois

Pretty heart-wrenching stuff, no? It’s hard enough being a lesbian in the third grade without Donald Trump sending your mom over the edge, and let’s face it, Elementary Counselor — Illinois has never lied to us before.

On the national scene, more anonymous reports and more disclaimers that the anonymous reports were pretty much all anecdotal.

A Latina woman in Texas reported: I was walking my baby at my neighborhood park and a truck drove by with a male driving and a female passenger. The female yelled “white power” at us as they drove by and then sped away.

It doesn’t get much more Trump-related than that, or more undeniable. After all, it’s “anecdotal,” right?

November 15: “These incidents, aside from news reports, are largely anecdotal.”

December 16: “The SPLC made every effort to verify each report, but many included in the count remain anecdotal.”

 anecdotal
adjective

  1. (of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research: ‘while there was much anecdotal evidence there was little hard fact’

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/anecdotal

The SPLC “reports” do include several media reports, and if the anonymous, anecdotal incidents were not proof enough, “Many harassers invoked Trump’s name during assaults, making it clear that the outbreak of hate stemmed in large part from his electoral success.”

This time, the SPLC got it right. A growing number of “incidents” really were directly tied to Trump’s election.

ten-days-after

And the suspect is…

andrew-mcclinton-arrested

Unlike the SPLC, we’re not going to jump to any conclusions because the authorities are still working through the case, and unlike the SPLC, we believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, not a court of public opinion.

The same goes for this gentleman:

philly

And him:

palmer

And this young “activist”:

volk

This young woman says she made her story up because she was late for curfew:

yasmin

Let’s be honest. A lot of hateful, ignorant things have been said before and after the election, with no shortage of them coming from Trump himself, and sadly, there is no shortage of knuckleheads who will commit hoaxes in accordance with the voices they hear in their heads.

One thing you can always count on, the SPLC will find a way to build a classic fearmongering campaign around them.

THIS JUST IN: A gay couple were removed from a JetBlue flight today for allegedly verbally abusing Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her family, who were flying commercial.

According to tweets by one of the men, his husband was upset to find Trump’s family on the flight and was “chasing them down to harass them.” [Who says one spouse can’t testify against another? Someone’s going to have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do when they get home tonight.]
ivanka

Finally, SPLC, a genuine “election-related hate incident” for your collection. Let’s see if it makes it onto the list.


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