Tag: 9/11

George Santos Allegedly Stole $3,000 From Veteran Whose Dog Needed Life-Saving Surgery

The George Santos story just keeps getting worse.

My first reaction to the initial New York Times story outing newly-elected New York congressman George Santos as a serial fabulist was surprise, then sadness because I knew his election was in large part made possible by the death of local news. If there’d been competent local media still operating in the area, Santos’ campaign would have ended as suddenly as it started in a flurry of revelatory news coverage, and Santos himself would have been a footnote, a political oddity and embarrassment to the local GOP.

Then for one glorious moment I thought maybe Santos was a performance artist, that we’d find out George Santos is the alias of some comedian or media provocateur whose congressional run was designed from the start to show that politics has become so polarized, so divorced from issues and hitched to ideological loyalties that even a widely disliked grifter — with no roots in the community and a completely fabricated resume — could win simply because he said the right things, pushed the right buttons and kissed the right behinds.

Alas, no Dax Herrera or Ari Shaffir came forward to claim credit for inventing the George Santos persona.

And it just kept getting worse. There were the stories about pending criminal charges for using stolen checks in Santos’ native (?) Brazil, former roommates who saw Santos on TV wearing expensive clothes he’d allegedly stolen from them, and Santos working as the director of a company under investigation for running an alleged Ponzi scheme.

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Sapphire, veteran Rich Osthoff’s service dog.

The latest story might be the most infuriating: Santos is accused of stealing $3,000 from a homeless, PTSD-suffering veteran whose beloved service dog needed life-saving surgery.

Rich Osthoff, who was living on the streets at the time, needed money to pay for veterinary surgery to remove a large and life-threatening tumor from his service dog, Sapphire. Osthoff says Sapphire was his lifeline during difficult times and he was desperate to get her the surgery she needed.

In 2016 a well-meaning vet tech and another veteran connected Osthoff with Santos, who claimed he ran a charity called Friends of Pets United and could help. At the time, Santos was going by the name Anthony Devolder.

Santos set up a GoFundMe drive for Osthoff and Sapphire, raised $3,000 with a tear-jerker of a plea, then basically ghosted Osthoff and his veteran friend Michael Boll, founder of New Jersey Veterans Network. After fobbing them off with a series of excuses, he stopped responding to their calls and vanished with the proceeds.

“It diminished my faith in humanity,” Osthoff said of the experience.

Santos denied the accusation.

“Fake,” Santos texted news startup Semafor on Wednesday. “No clue who this is.”

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Osthoff with Sapphire.

But dozens of other people besides Osthoff, Boll and the vet tech were involved and confirmed Santos’ role in the fundraiser, there are publicly visible tweets from 2016 linking to it — and crediting “Anthony Devolder” for running it — and GoFundMe acknowledged the existence of the drive.

In addition, news reports have confirmed Friends of Pets United, Santos’ “charity,” was never registered as a non-profit. Santos also defrauded an animal rescue group in New Jersey when he pocketed the proceeds from a 2017 fundraiser he ran on behalf of the organization, according to dozens of media reports. Santos was terse in his response to the accusations from Osthoff and Boll, but he was eager to talk about his non-existent pet charity during his campaign, when he claimed Friends of Pets United “saved” more than 2,500 cats and dogs over a four-year span and trapped and neutered more than 3,000 cats.

Santos’ lies are so numerous and so outrageous it’s difficult to keep track of them, and it’s doubtful he remembers all of them.

He claimed his mother worked at a financial firm at the World Trade Center and died in the 9/11 attacks, but Fatima Devolder left the US for Brazil in 1999 and never returned. She also never worked in finance. He claimed four of his employees died in the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting that claimed 49 lives. Santos never had any employees, his company didn’t exist, and he didn’t know anyone who died at the nightclub. He claimed ownership over an impressive and burgeoning real estate empire, but never owned any properties and owes more than $40,000 in back rent on a Queens apartment he shared with his sister for years. (His sister was also the recipient of a $30,000 FEMA handout and contributed a hefty $5,000 to his campaign, but still owes tens of thousands in back rent on the apartment, reports say.)

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George Santos has refused to resign from congress despite calls from his own constituents, other lawmakers, figures in his own party and media commentators demanding his exit. Credit: Official congressional portrait

There are too many lies to list here, too much insanity to digest in one sitting, and it’s probably not good for the blood pressure to dwell on this weasel of a man allowing a homeless veteran’s service dog to die while pocketing the money raised for her surgery.

But we’re not done yet. We still don’t know how Santos bolstered his campaign with $750,000 of his own money, or where that cash came from. It’s not even clear if Santos is his real name, or if he’s actually a U.S. citizen, with some reports — like a New York Times story from last week — suggesting he may have married his former wife for citizenship.

While New York Republicans have been among the loudest voices to condemn Santos and demand he resign or be removed from congress, national party leaders haven’t made any moves to get rid of him — and have actually given him committee assignments — because they believe they need his vote in a slimmer-than-anticipated congressional majority.

As the lies keep piling up, the biggest question is: How long will this farce be allowed to drag on?

FurryGate: Rogan, Boebert, Greene Drag Cats Into Politics With Claims Of Litter Boxes In Schools

The physicist Michio Kaku was a guest on a radio show and was answering a question about possible intelligent life visiting Earth when Joe Rogan interrupted him.

“The three pyramids are aligned with Orion’s belt,” Rogan said. “Do your research, man. Look it up.”

Rogan, who was into 9/11 truther conspiracies at the time, went on to explain how the Egyptians couldn’t possibly have built the pyramids on their own, and that aliens helped them align the positions of the giant structures to correspond to important celestial features.

Here was Kaku, one of the brightest minds in human history, co-founder of string field theory, a man whose textbooks are required reading for PhD-level physics students, getting talked over and “educated” by a pothead who rose to fame hosting a game show in which he forced contestants to eat cockroaches.

I thought of that cringey interaction this week after reading about Rogan insisting school districts are accommodating kids who identify as cats by replacing toilets with litter boxes in school bathrooms.

Rogan’s source was rock solid if you’re the type of person who thinks ancient aliens traveled thousands of lights to the Earth of deep antiquity to teach human beings how to stack stones on top of each other: Rogan’s friend’s wife, who works at the school district, insisted the litter box story is true.

Like previous claims of school administrators gone mad in service to alleged furries, Rogan’s claim was intentionally nebulous and unverifiable. He didn’t name the school, the district or the teacher. We have to take his word for it.

If you like that sort of thing, I have good news for you! Rogan’s in great company.

Marjorie Taylor Greene — the congresswoman who once claimed “Jewish space lasers” were responsible for California wildfires, the shining testament to US education standards who warned “the Gazpacho police” will imprison patriotic Americans, the genteel stateswoman who said scientists are creating fake meat in “Peach tree dishes” to “zap” Americans — has also warned of the apparently widespread practice of furry school children shitting in litter boxes.

Not to be outdone, Rep. Lauren Boebert has co-signed the cat conspiracy, telling donors that evil cat-loving people are hell bent on destroying wholesome American values by unleashing cat-identified children on an innocent and unsuspecting public.

Say it enough and it becomes true

The claims have been repeated so many times that they’ve spread to school board meetings and state legislatures across the country, perpetuated by gerontocratic leaders who think The Onion is a real news source. Two current gubernatorial candidates, in Colorado and Minnesota, have also repeated the claim.

“Schools are not disclosing that they are allowing children who identify as snakes, cats, whatever, they’re providing litter boxes for the [student] cats,” a Tennessee state representative said during a hearing in September. “And obviously it’s very disruptive to the learning process. If a child has that much of a self-identity issue they probably need a different environment, and it’s creating a lot of anxiety, a lot of confusion with the children who are boys and girls.”

“But Big Buddy,” you might be thinking, “I thought you said PITB was apolitical and you’re a moderate?”

It is, and I am.

I dislike all ideology equally because it invites people to abdicate their responsibility to think for themselves. I believe our two-party system and the divisiveness it fuels could be the ruin of our great nation, particularly at a time when polls show up to half the US population expects to fight in an ideologically-driven civil war. I worry that we are doing precisely what our enemies want by feuding amongst ourselves. Indeed, we know for a fact that “troll farms” in countries like Russia and China exist to sow the seeds of division and crank up poisonous political rhetoric online.

But I’m also against pure, abject, mind-boggling, depressing, Idiocracy-style stupidity and the idea that anything is true if someone says it is. Neither party has a monopoly on this kind of thing.

In particular, I’m not a fan of injecting cats into the American culture wars. (Although it’s not just cats at this point. A Texas school district was forced to deny rumors that administrators were allowing “furries” to eat out of dog bowls in school cafeterias.)

We already fail these innocent creatures in myriad ways, from allowing declawing and doing little to improve weak animal welfare laws, to tolerating the idea that it’s perfectly acceptable for people to shoot cats with arrows, BBs and real firearms as some grotesque form of entertainment.

Now people want to use cats as the rope in a perverse game of cultural tug-of-war, which could further degrade their status and lead to more proxy violence against them.

Cats are vulnerable, and are already targets of hate

Violent criminals, including the perpetrators of the recent mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, often get their start by killing cats before “graduating” to humans.

Cats are also frequent victims of redirected anger, with studies showing they’re abused and killed in domestic violence situations because they’re viewed as extensions of the feminine, or simply because killing them causes emotional distress to the people who care for them.

Of domestic violence victims who have pets, more than 70 percent of their abusers also took their rage out on the victims’ pets.

Politics have pervaded and infected so many things, cats and dogs are now staked to territory on either side of the political fault lines.

So how long will it be before an Alex Jones type claims the government is using cats to spy on Americans? The best conspiracy theories always have a nugget of truth to them, after all, and in the 1960s the CIA tried — and failed, spectacularly — to use cats implanted with transmitters to spy on Soviet officials.

How long before a Boebert or a Greene tells a crowd that it’s their patriotic duty to shoot “liberal cats” on sight? How long before Tucker Carlson follows up one of his thrilling UFO/crop circle/cow mutilation investigative specials with a breathless exclusive about America-hating cats?

“Why do so many cats want to see America burn? Why do cats like to line their litter boxes with the American flag? Does the government allow cats to vote? Hey, I’m just asking questions!”

If you think that’s outlandish, I’d point out that we’ve been there, done that.

Tucker Swanson Carlson has already claimed that “decadent rich people” who “detest the country” like to plot America’s downfall from cat cafes. Those evil America-haters stroke cats and sip lattes while “working through the night to destroy” our great nation, Carlson told his viewers. I’m not making this up.

Europeans almost extirpated domestic cats in the middle ages when people were convinced they carried the Black Plague, and cats had even bigger targets on their backs after the Inquisition’s most overzealous prosecutors insisted felines were used in Satanic rituals.

Likewise, my Google News alert for cat-related articles shows a depressing, never-ending feed of stories about people chugging beer and shooting cats with BB guns, mystery killers strangling neighborhood kitties and “hunters” who put arrows through these sentient, innocent animals who have the mental and emotional capacity of three-year-old human children.

And there’s already plenty of nonsense online about how our choice of pet reflects our political beliefs, as well as unhinged rants about the kind of people who prefer cats. There are even research studies about the intersection of politics and attitudes toward companion animals, and research shows certain people consider cats “liberal” because they don’t adhere to social hierarchies and don’t recognize authority.

Is it really a stretch to imagine some 85, deep into a case of Miller High Life, taking target practice at neighborhood cats because he sees them as evil, feminine, America-hating animals? Are we sure it doesn’t happen already?

Politics really does ruin everything.