When you build your multimillion-dollar organization upon sentiment, relationships and romance, expect some complications. Especially when you fall in line with those who want to redefine sentiment, relationships and romance.
After the Hallmark Channel pulled an ad for zola.com showing lesbians kissing at a same-sex wedding ceremony, then flip-flopped and reinstated the ad after activist pressure, then announced a partnership with LGBTQ organizations that were critical of Hallmark, conservative women’s group One Million Moms struck back.
“One Million Moms has just launched an official boycott of Hallmark, and we’re asking our supporters and your listeners to go to OneMillionMoms.com to sign the boycott Hallmark pledge,” One Million Moms Director Monica Cole said on The Todd Starnes Show. “Simply put, we’re asking Hallmark to reconsider airing commercials with same-sex relationships.”
The same goes for Hallmark movies with same-sex relationships that you might not want in your living room.
“As long as they are airing controversial topics and content that is no longer family friendly, we have no choice but to change the channel and to boycott the Hallmark channel,” said Cole.
Cole believes it should be left to parents to decide when and how to bring up the subjects of same sex marriage and homosexuality to children. The ad for Zola.com forces the issue.
“We have seen this play out over the past decade from the Boy Scouts to what happened with Chick-fil-A and Salvation Army,” said Todd Starnes. “Here we are facing the Hallmark Channel backing down in the face of this horrible bullying at the hands of the LGBT movement.”
“We don’t boycott often, so, we’re extremely serious about this,” Cole explained. “Hallmark is one of the very few family-friendly networks still available for family entertainment.”
When One Million Moms caught wind of the ad from Zola.com, Cole said her organization contacted Hallmark and was thanked for bringing it to the network’s attention.
“They know many of their viewers are traditional, conservative families,” said Cole. “We gave them an opportunity to do the right thing, and the pledge to boycott the channel is the result of their change of heart over the weekend.”
Michigan State University informed student employees to refrain from using terms like “I apologize” and “no problem” and addressing customers with gender-specific “sir or ma’am,” in a mandatory August training.
MSU Service Center employees witnessed an hour-long “Inclusive & Culturally Sensitive Service to Residents & Guests” presentation during their mandatory fall training, covering everything from identity wheels and utilizing pronouns to misgendering.
“If I’m saying ‘no problem,’ that’s leading a customer to believe that they could be a problem…”
MSU Facilities Manager Sheena Ballbach claimed during her presentation that saying “no problem” could be a trigger.
“Raise your hand if you’ve ever said ‘no problem,’” Ballbach told the employees. “Did you ever think that was a trigger? I say this all the time and never thought that this could be a trigger word. But if I’m saying ‘no problem,’ that’s leading a customer to believe that they could be a problem or they could be an inconvenience to you and we’re just assuring them that they’re not.”
“I don’t know” and “you should have done this” were also examples of triggers. Ballbach displayed a list of triggers, paired with “calmers,” or statements MSU employees should say instead.
Another trigger in the workplace is misgendering customers, according to Ballbach. She then asked students, “‘how many of you were ever raised to say ‘yes sir’ or ‘yes ma’am?’” A fair number of hands went up and she admitted she was also raised that way.
“Not everybody identifies like ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am,’” the facilities manager informed employees.
“I would like to start seeing a culture around MSU where we say… “they”, not “his” or “hers.”’ In addition, asking for a customer’s name is appropriate according to a presentation slide.
Eduardo Olivo, assistant director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at MSU, also stressed not misgendering people.
“We live in a [sex and gender] binary world…we all know that’s just a social construction,” he stated. Olivo had begun the diversity discussion with an identity wheel. The circle diagram is divided into parts of one’s identity such as “age,” “first language,” and “sexual orientation.”
This wheel signifies how people identify and their memberships to social groups.
According to Olivo, bias incidents have spiked in the past two years based on data from the MSU Residence Housing Association (RHA).
RHA is the student government of students who are housed within campus dormitories. Its microaggression campaign states “college campuses serve many purposes, including the creation and maintenance of multicultural and brave spaces for action and dialogue around social justice.” In addition, RHA spent $6,000 on a “Love and Unity Banquet” months ago.
Olivo tied this data to the notion that “students on our campus from minoritized communities are feeling…powerless, not heard, not included, and victims of oppression systems.”
The MSU presentation also included slides depicting a black student holding a sign reading “why is my skin color considered a threat?” a Muslim student grasping a sign claiming “I can cover my body & still be a feminist,” and a female student bearing a sign saying “select your gender,” followed by “male” and “female” options and, further down, “why is my gender not an option?”
MSU political science senior James Stosio, who has previously attended the diversity segment, told Campus Reform that he “usually feel[s] a little uncomfortable with all of it honestly, but… I do think it is valuable.”
Campus Reform reached out to both administrators and other students but did not receive any more comments in time for publication.
It was not immediately clear if he meant the state capitol building in Nashville, or the city in general.
Nathan Semans, 38, of Waverly, Tenn., allegedly sent an email to WKRN-TV, NEWS 2 on Wednesday, threatening to “blow someone’s brain out” at the “state capital” over his stated displeasure with President Donald Trump, police reported.
WKRN passed the email on to law enforcement.
“We have always valued and appreciated our partnership with the media. Thanks to an alert and forward thinking employee at News 2, we were able to investigate this threat and make our community and state safer,” said Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long in a release Thursday.
The email sent to WKRN read, with misspellings preserved:
“Look if you don’t run story I’m going to state capital to blow someone’s brain out. I don’t look good at the moment cause the tyranny of what trump did, the nature of this call is secret. You think I’m kidding trump belongs in the dumpster from a cool kid. Knock it off I’m human. I’ll immediately leave this country on a double once my passport clears, I’m sick of this nonsense and bologna hanging around that trumps the perfect American, hallelujah against trump I recommend you forward to the table of the news room or I join ISIS to seek revenge.”
Semans was transported to Humphreys County Jail on a $1,000,000 bond on Wednesday evening after his arrest.
Online jail records show he is charged with one count of commission of an act of terrorism.
It was not clear if he had retained legal representation by Friday.
Waverly is approximately 75 miles west of Nashville in Humphreys County
Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers made contact with Semans on Wednesday afternoon, when police say he admitted to making the threat and to claiming he planned to join ISIS.
Semans said he does not own any guns, was apologetic and had called WKRN back to say he was “just kidding,” according to a THP news release. When officers searched his home, no weapons were found, THP confirmed.
THP searches involved taking a phone and tablet from Semans’ home for further analysis. He was charged with commission of act of terrorism, which is a Class A felony in Tennessee.
The United States Secret Service has also been involved in the investigation,along with the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Office.
“When we work together for the common good of our community, we are all safer,” said Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Dereck R. Stewart. “I am so proud of the process, the teamwork and partnerships that worked together seamlessly to prevent a possible very serious situation. I am thankful that WKRN-TV contacted our department, for if we had not received this notification, then it is very possible that the narrative of this release could have been tragically worse.”
It may not be wise to parse exactly what kind of crazy a mass shooter is, but in the wake of the absolute torrent of condemnations of “white supremacy” after the horrific Walmart shooting in El Paso, Texas, it seems right to set the record straight. You see, the man who murdered 22 people and injured 26 others — and who is still living — isn’t exactly a white supremacist, at least not according to his manifesto. Instead, his attack was motivated by hatred of immigrants, hatred of corporations, and radical environmentalism. (So long as his manifesto is more than just a “troll.”)
The American lifestyle affords our citizens an incredible quality of life. However, our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources. This has been a problem for decades. For example, this phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades old classic “The Lorax”. Water sheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil drilling operations. Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land….
The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people in this country, but god damn most of y’all re just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.
“If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable,” the terrorist writes. That’s Thanos’ thinking. The Avengers villain wipes out half of all living things in the name of sustainability. Even Hollywood understands that’s evil.
Throughout his manifesto, the El Paso shooter demonizes Hispanic immigrants. He refers to them as an “invasion,” echoing President Donald Trump. [Technically, an invasion is a co-ordinated attack from a foreign power, and mass immigration doesn’t fit that bill, even though it can be dangerous.] Yet he insists that his views predate Trump. He in fact predicts that the media will wrongly blame Trump’s rhetoric for his manifesto.
My opinions on automation, immigration, and the rest predate Trump and his campaign for president. I am putting this here because some people will blame the President or certain presidential candidates for the attack. This is not the case. I know that the media will probably call me a white supremacist and blame Trump’s rhetoric. The media is infamous for fake news. Their reaction to this attack will likely just confirm that.
This horrific anti-immigrant radical environmentalist terrorist may have a point on that one issue.
The “white supremacy” angle seems overblown. Yes, the shooter did open the manifesto by agreeing with the white supremacist terrorist in Christchurch, New Zealand, but his ideal scenario is not white supremacy but different governments determined by race.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “white supremacist” as “a person who believes that the white race is inherently superior to other races and that white people should have control over people of other races.” This vile ideology cannot be condemned enough, but besides his reference to Christchurch, the El Paso shooter does not seem to advocate it.
The horrific racist declares, “I am against race mixing,” which he denounces as “unnecessary and selfish.” Interestingly, however, he does not advocate a white government ruling over other races.
But the idea of deporting or murdering all non-white Americans is horrific. Many have been here at least as long as the whites, and have done as much to build our country. The best solution to this for now would be to divide America into a confederacy of territories with at least 1 territory for each race. This physical separation would nearly eliminate race mixing and improve social unity by granting each race self-determination within their respective territory(s).
The El Paso shooter and his manifesto cannot be condemned enough. This man is a cold-blooded murderer inspired by hatred. But let’s be clear about what his manifesto actually advocates. He is an anti-immigrant, anti-corporation, radical environmentalist racist. Based on his words, the media is wrong to blame Trump, who rushed to condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy on Monday. Even the “white supremacy” language may be inaccurate.
One thing is for certain: among other things, the El Paso shooter is a radical environmentalist, an eco-terrorist. If the media blames Trump for a manifesto that echoes his words, why are they not blaming the Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups? “If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.” That’s chilling.
An ‘Inconvenient Truth’: El Paso Shooter Was Eco-Extremist, Loved ‘Lorax’
Following the murder of 20 people by a racist terrorist in El Paso, Texas, the liberal media cherry-picked portions of his alleged manifesto to connect him to the right. But some ignored portions that cited The Lorax as an inspiration for his views — a book and movie the liberal media used to love to promote because of its environmental agenda.
The alleged manifesto was headlined “The Inconvenient Truth,” similar to Davis Guggenheim’s 2006 documentary on Al Gore, and included eco-extremist rantings about destroying the environment, The Lorax, plastic waste and more.
CNN and some other media conveniently ignored other portions of the four-page manifesto (believed to have been written by shooting suspect Patrick Crusius) that would reflect badly on the left — like the shooter’s environmental sentiments.
On page two it read, “Our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country. The decimation of the environment is creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly overharvesting resources.” [emphasis added]
It cited the Dr. Seuss’ fable writing, “This phenomenon is brilliantly portrayed in the decades-old classic ‘The Lorax.’ Watersheds around the country, especially in agricultural areas, are being depleted. Fresh water is being polluted from farming and oil-drilling operations.” He attacked “consumer culture” for plastic and e-waste, complained about urban sprawl, the use of paper towels and the unwillingness of people to change their lifestyles.”
Many of those environmental attitudes are promoted by the liberal media. In 2012, it fawned over the updated Lorax when a movie adaptation was released. NBC’s Today, CBS New York, Huffington Post and others celebrated its environmental messaging.
NBC Today co-host Matt Lauer was stunned that Fox News host Lou Dobbs had criticized the movie for trying to indoctrinate children with an environmentalist agenda. He told Lorax actor Ed Helms “believe it or not, Dr. Seuss has sparked controversy with this movie.”
CBS New York reported on April 9, 2012, that “Seuss personifies industry as a whole with the Once-ler, to draw interest and attention to unchecked corporate greed as a threat to nature.”
“The Lorax sounds the warning siren, but is ignored, as environmental groups often are, until it’s too late. But industry isn’t the sole culprit in this cautionary tale. Industry will only produce what it thinks consumers will buy. So on a certain level, we’re all responsible for the fate of the environment,” it continued.
ThinkProgress quipped on March 9, 2012, that it was “safe to say that anyone shocked that the movie has a strong environmental message has never read the book. The Lorax speaks for the trees.” That left-wing site perceived the moral of the story to be “it’s up to us to stop unsustainable industries: ‘UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’’
The Huffington Post lectured parents, telling them to talk with their children about the film’s messages and “act on them,” on March 8, 2012. CNN even noted on March 13, 2012, that The Lorax movie adaptation was criticized for allowing commercial tie-ins with IHOP and Mazda to taint the Lorax’s “green message.” As recently as 2018, NPR reported that a federal court judge quoted the Lorax in a decision cancelling a gas pipeline permit.
YOUNGER DAYS: Beto O’Rourke, left, in a photo of his band, Foss. Texas Republicans also tweeted out what appears to be a police mug shot of the Texas Democrat. Handout via Texas GOP Twitter
_ _ _ _
[ x x ] cDc communications [ x x ]
\ / presents... \ /
(` ') (` ')
A Feature on MONEY - Today's Monster
by Psychedelic Warlord
>>> A CULT Publication......1987 <<<
-cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-
Money has been a part of your life since the day you were born. It
has been in everyone's life for thousands of years. In fact, you have to go
back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks to find the origins of money. Since
it has been a part of your life for so long, you probably never thought about
life with out it. Well, here's your chance. Think, a free society with no
high, middle, or low classification of it's people. Think, no more money
related murders, suicides, divorces, or theft. Think, no more families living
below a set poverty line or children starving to death because of a lack of
money. You're probably telling yourself, "sure, this sounds great, but how
would we ever accomplish this?" Well, in this short file, I will explain for
you the virtues of a money-less society and the paths we must take to
To achieve a money-less society (or have a society where money is
heavily de-emphasized) a lot of things would have to change, including
government as we know it. This is where the anti-money group and the disciples
of Anarchy meet. Anarchists profess that under Anarchy (or limited Anarchy),
free trade would be established, with no governing body to interfere. Free
trade to me, means that we would no longer use a system of money, but I fear we
will always have a system of government, one way or another, so we would have
to use other means other than totally toppling the government (I don't think
the masses would support such a radical move at this time).
We (as a people) would have to do it more or less non-violently, for if
we use violence, we would never have the support of the masses of people that
make up our society. Some ways of doing this, would be to slowly take the
United States off the world market, and then slowly phase out our own money
markets (including Wall Street). This would slowly bring the upper and middle
classes of people in America together. By the time money is de-emphasized
enough that it is used only for trading with foreign nations, almost all the
classes of people in America would be (for all intended purposes) even.
Of course this would be extremely hard to accomplish, and it will
probably never happen in our lifetime, or in our far-off descendents life time
unless we do something about it ourselves, while we still can. At least we
could get the movement started and keep it going in future generations.
If you're interested in the idea of a money-free society, and would
like to participate in active conversations on the subject, call:
The New Society / 915-532-3226 / New User Pass:JELLO
Remember, we are the next generation, and will soon rule the world.
(c)1987 cDc communications by Psychedelic Warlord 12/0/87-31
All Rights Worth Shit - and duefully so.
_ _ _ _
[ x x ] cDc communications [ x x ]
\ / presents... \ /
(` ') (` ')
Visions From The Last Crusade
by Psychedelic Warlord
>>> A CULT Publication......1988 <<<
-cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-
The catacombs of my head produce the most wonderful dreams and visions.
I feel that I am one with my intellect and my soul. It was during these
dreams and visions that I concocted a notion. It started as something
small at first, but after every dream it grew stronger, until the urge
had become too great. No longer could this strong desire in my mind be
suppressed. Recognizing this fact, my one and only goal in life became
the termination of everything that was free and loving. Only I could
realize the true value of loving and expression. Only in my dreams.
This feeling pervaded everything in my life, yet the first few months
after realizing my goal, I had done nothing. Then one day, as I was
driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They
were happy, happy to be free from their troubles. I knew, however, that
this happiness and sense of freedom were much too overwhelming for them.
This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams. As I
neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping
the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the
two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of
the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped
my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head. My
dream was abruptly ended when I heard a loud banging on the front
window. It was an old man, who was using his cane to awaken me. He might
have been a witness to my act of love. I was not sure, nor did I care.
It was simply ecstasy. As I drove home, I envisioned myself committing
more of these "acts of love", and after a while, I had no trouble carrying
The more people I killed, the longer my dreams were. I soon quit my job,
and stayed at my house in an almost comatose state. My dreams grew longer
and more vivid. They kept me alive and proved to be the only thing
to live for. I had killed nearly 38 people by the time of my twenty-third
birthday, and each one was more fulfilling than the last.
I was never really surprised at how I evaded the police. My dreams
had taken over my life, and they guided me through the right path, and
I never had need for fear of police. Or anything, for that matter.
(c)opy-write 1988 cDc communications by Psychedelic Warlord 8/28/88-73
All Rights, Of Course, Are Shit In Their Worth
As the Texas Democrat enters the race for president, members of a group famous for “hactivism” come forward for the first time to claim him as one of their own. There may be no better time to be an American politician rebelling against business as usual. But is the United States ready for O’Rourke’s teenage exploits?
(This article is adapted from a forthcoming book, “Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World”)
> Some things you might know about Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman who just entered the race for president:
• The Democratic contender raised a record amount for a U.S. Senate race in 2018 and almost beat the incumbent in a Republican stronghold, without hiding his support for gun control and Black Lives Matter protests on the football field.
• When he was younger, he was arrested on drunk-driving charges and played in a punk band. Now 46, he still skateboards.
• The charismatic politician with the Kennedy smile is liberal on some issues and libertarian on others, which could allow him to cross the country’s political divide.
One thing you didn’t know: While a teenager, O’Rourke acknowledged in an exclusive interview, he belonged to the oldest group of computer hackers in U.S. history.
The hugely influential Cult of the Dead Cow, jokingly named after an abandoned Texas slaughterhouse, is notorious for releasing tools that allowed ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows. It’s also known for inventing the word “hacktivism” to describe human-rights-driven security work.
Members of the group have protected O’Rourke’s secret for decades, reluctant to compromise his political viability. Now, in a series of interviews, CDC members have acknowledged O’Rourke as one of their own. In all, more than a dozen members of the group agreed to be named for the first time in a book about the hacking group by this reporter that is scheduled to be published in June by Public Affairs. O’Rourke was interviewed early in his run for the Senate.
There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. But his membership in the group could explain his approach to politics better than anything on his resume. His background in hacking circles has repeatedly informed his strategy as he explored and subverted established procedures in technology, the media and government.“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”
An ex-hacker running for national office would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. But that was before two national elections sent people from other nontraditional backgrounds to the White House and Congress, many of them vowing to blow up the status quo.
Arguably, there has been no better time to be an American politician rebelling against business as usual. Still, it’s unclear whether the United States is ready for a presidential contender who, as a teenager, stole long-distance phone service for his dial-up modem, wrote a murder fantasy in which the narrator drives over children on the street, and mused about a society without money.
Footloose’ for the hacker set
O’Rourke was a misfit teen in El Paso, Texas, in the 1980s when he decided to seek out bulletin board systems – the online discussion forums that at the time were the best electronic means for connecting people outside the local school, church and neighborhood.
“When Dad bought an Apple IIe and a 300-baud modem and I started to get on boards, it was the Facebook of its day,” he said. “You just wanted to be part of a community.”
O’Rourke soon started his own board, TacoLand, which was freewheeling and largely about punk music. “This was the counterculture: Maximum Rock & Roll [magazine], buying records by catalog you couldn’t find at record stores,” he said.
He then connected with another young hacker in the more conservative Texas city of Lubbock who ran a bulletin board called Demon Roach Underground. Known online as Swamp Rat, Kevin Wheeler had recently moved from a university town in Ohio and was having problems adjusting to life in Texas.
Like O’Rourke, Wheeler said, he was hunting for video games that had been “cracked,” or stripped from digital rights protections, so that he could play them for free on his Apple. Also like O’Rourke, Wheeler wanted to find other teens who enjoyed the same things, and to write and share funny and profane stories that their parents and conservative neighbors wouldn’t appreciate. It was good-natured resistance to the repressive humdrum around them, a sort of “Footloose” for those just discovering the new world of computers.
Wheeler and a friend named the Cult of the Dead Cow after an eerie hangout, a shut-down Lubbock slaughterhouse – the unappealing hind part of Texas’ iconic cattle industry. Most CDC members kept control of their own bulletin boards while referring visitors to one another’s and distributing the CDC’s own branded essays, called text files or t-files.
At the time, people connected to bulletin boards by dialing in to the phone lines through a modem. Heavy use of long-distance modem calls could add up to hundreds of dollars a month. Savvy teens learned techniques for getting around the charges, such as using other people’s phone-company credit card numbers and five-digit calling codes to place free calls.
O’Rourke didn’t say what techniques he used. Like thousands of others, though, he said he pilfered long-distance service “so I wouldn’t run up the phone bill.”
Under Texas law, stealing long-distance service worth less than $1,500 is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine. More than that is a felony, and could result in jail time. It is unclear whether O’Rourke topped that threshold. In any event, the state bars prosecution of the offense for those under 17, as O’Rourke was for most of his active time in the group, and the statute of limitations is five years. Two Cult of the Dead Cow contemporaries in Texas who were caught misusing calling cards as minors got off with warnings.
O’Rourke handed off control of his own board when he moved east for boarding school, and he said he stopped participating on the hidden CDC board after he enrolled at Columbia University at age 18.
Hana Callaghan, a government specialist at Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, said that voters might want to consider both the gravity of any candidate’s offenses and the person’s age at the time.
Among the questions voters should ask, she said: “What was the violation? Was it egregious? What does it say about their character – do they believe the rules don’t apply to them?” If substantial time has passed, she added, voters should decide whether the person “learned the error of their ways and no longer engages in those kind of behavior.”
“When Dad bought an Apple IIe and a 300-baud modem and I started to get on boards, it was the Facebook of its day. You just wanted to be part of a community.”BETO O’ROURKE
When he was a teen, O’Rourke also frequented sites that offered cracked software. The bulletin boards were “a great way to get cracked games,” O’Rourke said, adding that he later realized his habit wasn’t morally defensible and stopped.
Using pirated software violates copyright laws, attorneys say, but in practice, software companies have rarely sued young people over it. When they do go after someone, it is typically an employer with workers using multiple unlicensed copies. Software providers are more interested in those who break the protections and spread their wares.
CDC wasn’t of that ilk. Although some CDC essays gave programming and hacking instructions, in the late 1980s, the group was more about writing than it was about breaking into computer systems.
But its focus on creative expression didn’t mean there were no grounds for controversy. Like many an underground newspaper, the Cult of the Dead Cow avidly pursued it.
A CDC member who joined in the early 1990s had previously used real instructions for making a pipe bomb to joke about shedding pounds by losing limbs. Three teenagers in Montreal found the file, and one lost two fingers after he tried to follow the formula, prompting outrage.
Rather than remove similar posts and hide the group’s history, the CDC warned readers not to take the files literally and added a disclaimer that survives on its current web page: “Warning: This site may contain explicit descriptions of or advocate one or more of the following: adultery, murder, morbid violence, bad grammar, deviant sexual conduct in violent contexts, or the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs.”
Grabbing media attention
O’Rourke and his old friends say his stint as a fledgling hacker fed into his subsequent work in El Paso as a software entrepreneur and alternative press publisher, which led in turn to successful long-shot runs at the city council and then Congress, where he unseated an incumbent Democrat.
Politically, O’Rourke has taken some conventional liberal positions, supporting abortion rights and opposing a wall on the Mexican border. But he takes a libertarian view on other issues, faulting excessive regulation and siding with businesses in congressional votes on financial industry oversight and taxes.
His more conservative positions have drawn fire from Democrats who see him as too friendly with Republicans and corporations. His more progressive votes and punk-rock past helped his recent opponent, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, portray O’Rourke as too radical for socially conservative Texas.
But the political balance allows him to appeal to both main strands of political thought in Silicon Valley – a key source of campaign money and cultural influence.
O’Rourke credits the Cult of the Dead Cow with developing his thinking in a number of ways. Not least, he fought to restore net neutrality, the principle which prevented internet providers from favoring some content over others.
Enthusiastically supported by large tech companies and consumer groups, net neutrality was formally adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. The major telecommunications companies argued that it limited their ability to offer new services to content providers, and under the Trump Administration, the FCC overturned the policy in 2017. An attempt to legislate its reinstatement failed last year, although tech trade groups are still trying in court.
Hackers generally support net neutrality as part of a broader worldview that the free flow of information is necessary and good.
“I understand the democratizing power of the internet, and how transformative it was for me personally, and how it leveraged the extraordinary intelligence of these people all over the country who were sharing ideas and techniques,” O’Rourke said.
“We weren’t deliberately looking for hacking chops. It was very much about personality and writing, really.”KEVIN WHEELER, CULT OF THE DEAD COW FOUNDER
“When you compromise the ability to treat all that equally, it runs counter to the ethics of the groups we were part of. And factually, you can just see that it will harm small-business development and growth. It hampers the ability to share what you are creating, whether it is an essay, a song, a piece of art.”
O’Rourke’s generation of hackers, and the Cult of the Dead Cow in particular, also thought deeply about how to grab media and public attention for a cause or a laugh. Group members, for instance, tossed raw meat from a Las Vegas stage, distributed an essay called “Sex with Satan” and falsely claimed the ability to hack satellites.
That media sense echoes in O’Rourke’s political life.
As a congressman in 2016, while he and others were holding a sit-in at the House of Representatives to force a floor debate on gun control, the Republican Speaker, Paul Ryan, called a recess. That invoked the congressional rule that C-SPAN can’t broadcast from its House cameras when the chamber isn’t in session.
Reporter Joseph Menn talks about how he got the story of O’Rourke and the Cult of the Dead Cow.
So O’Rourke began broadcasting the protest from his phone over Facebook, and the network aired that instead. The stunt drew attention to the majority party’s refusal to deliberate on the issue, and it showed O’Rourke’s willingness to upend convention.
During last year’s Senate campaign, O’Rourke’s staff took videos of him interacting with voters all over the state, editing several that went viral on social media. That helped O’Rourke raise more money than any Senate candidate in history despite refusing donations from political action committees. While losing his race by less than three percentage points, he drew in new voters and helped flip House seats and other races down the ticket.
While considering a presidential run, O’Rourke has gone on a multistate road trip and posted videos of everyday activities, even including a dental visit.
“Part of my success was being exposed to people who thought differently and explored how things work,” O’Rourke said in the interview. “There are alternate paths to service and success, and it’s important to be mindful of that.”
A murder fantasy and an end to money
O’Rourke, too, thought differently. His CDC writing from nearly three decades ago, under the handle “Psychedelic Warlord,” remains online.
One article he wrote as a teen mused how the world would work without money. After changing the system, including the government, O’Rourke foresaw the end of starvation and class distinctions.
“To achieve a money-less society (or have a society where money is heavily de-emphasized) a lot of things would have to change, including government as we know it. This is where the anti-money group and the disciples of Anarchy meet,” O’Rourke wrote under his pseudonym. “I fear we will always have a system of government, one way or another, so we would have to use other means other than totally toppling the government (I don’t think the masses would support such a radical move at this time).”
Another t-file from O’Rourke, written when he was 15, is a short and disturbing piece of fiction. “One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.
TEENAGE WRITER: O’Rourke’s CDC writing from nearly three decades ago, under the online handle “Psychedelic Warlord,” remains online.
“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.”
In another piece, he took on a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi who maintained that Hitler was misunderstood and didn’t personally want Jews killed. O’Rourke and a Jewish friend questioned the man about his theories and let him ramble about Jews and African Americans, an attempt to let him hang himself with his own words.
“We were trying to see what made him think the horrible things that he did,” he wrote in the file.
O’Rourke added that if readers wanted to learn more about the subject’s Aryan church, they could write to the man’s post office box in El Paso.
“Surely,” O’Rourke wrote, “they’d appreciate some ‘fan’ mail.”
A rare woman in the hacker world
In addition to critiquing racism, O’Rourke tried to do something about sexism in the male-dominated world of hacking.
O’Rourke befriended a 16-year-old California girl who was a regular on TacoLand, and he put her up for membership in the CDC. With Wheeler’s approval, she got in, making the CDC one of a very few hacker groups of the time that weren’t all-male.
“I joined happily, honored, and proceeded to write crappy, horrific, 16-year-old bloody t-files,” Carrie Campbell wrote to friends in the group 20 years later. “I loved the community of smart people (and their girlfriends) to converse with and bounce ideas off of. The acceptance of my female gender is extremely rare in the hacker scene and I appreciate it…Somehow I ended up purely by accident as the only girl in the world’s most notorious hacker group.”
OLD FRIENDS: During the weekend of the 1997 Hackers on Planet Earth conference in New York, O’Rourke reconnected with old friend Carrie Campbell. REUTERS/Photo courtesy of Danny Dulai.
Its writing moved to web pages that were hosted for years by a famed Boston hacking collective called the L0pht, with which the CDC shared four members, including Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, future head of the cyber security mission at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is the Pentagon skunk works created after Sputnik to create “strategic surprise” in international conflict, and it had launched the forerunner to today’s internet.
Wheeler kept the Cult of the Dead Cow small, with no more than 20 active members at a time and about 50 over the group’s life. It continues today. The vast majority have remained anonymous, though most of the core participants agreed to identify themselves for the forthcoming book, called “Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World.” Campbell and Wheeler were two of those who agreed to be identified as CDC members for the first time.
During O’Rourke’s active period, “we weren’t deliberately looking for hacking chops,” Wheeler said. “It was very much about personality and writing, really. For a long time, the ‘test,’ or evaluation, was to write t-files. Everyone was expected to write things. If we were stoked to have more hacker-oriented people, it was because we’d be excited to have a broader range in our t-files.”
O’Rourke wrote a few more essays before entering Columbia in 1991. The introduction of internet service providers and Web browsers in the mid-1990s wiped out most bulletin boards, but the CDC lived on.
O’Rourke saw other members socially until at least 1997, just as the Cult of the Dead Cow was ramping up a run of five or six years as the most famous group of its kind.
“I was really at the margins, but I very much wanted to be as cool as these people, as sophisticated and technologically proficient and aware and smart as they were,” he said in the interview. “I never was, but it meant so much just being able to be a part of something with them…understanding how the world worked – literally how it worked, how the phone system worked and how we were all connected to each other.”
At the hacker conference Def Con in 1998 and 1999, donning costumes and rapping to a light show, the CDC released two tools to hack into computers running Windows. Back Orifice and its sequel Back Orifice 2000 were condemned as reckless by some. But the idea was to cause enough chaos and scrutiny to force Microsoft to work harder to secure its products, and the stunts worked, company veterans and outside security experts said.
Like O’Rourke, not everyone in the CDC pursued careers in the computer industry. Wheeler ran music venues in Texas and produced records in New York before turning to currency trading. Campbell is a freelance researcher near Seattle.
When Campbell left the email group for CDC members in 2006, she asked everyone to keep O’Rourke’s identity secret, because he had just been elected to the El Paso city council.
They did so, and a few stepped up in late 2017 and early 2018 to hold some of O’Rourke’s earliest out-of-state fundraisers for the Senate race. The first in San Francisco was co-hosted by CDC member Adam O’Donnell, an entrepreneur and a security engineer at Cisco Systems, and Alex Stamos, then the chief security officer at Facebook, who had worked under CDC members at a security provider in the previous decade.
SHARED BACKGROUND: From left, CDC member Adam O’Donnell, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Alex Stamos, then the chief security officer at Facebook. REUTERS/Joseph Menn
“It’s really exciting,” Stamos said. “I have to support this guy, someone who has been active in this world since he was a teenager.”Both said that technology was playing an increasingly fundamental role in national and personal security, the economy and everyday life, and that O’Rourke’s background in the industry, no matter how unconventional, would be a huge advantage in office.
Chris Wysopal, a L0pht veteran who founded tech company Veracode with a friend from the CDC, said he had been happily surprised to hear last year of O’Rourke’s history.
“We need people at his level who come from the hacking community and get it,” Wysopal said. “But it’s rare to see someone from that background have the leadership and communications skills. It’s hard to believe that we might even see a hacker run for president.”
Back during one of his college summers, O’Rourke crashed at Carrie Campbell’s house when his punk band toured her area. She saw him in 1997, too, when he was working at a New York internet provider and the CDC came to the Hackers on Planet Earth conference.
The next time was two decades later, at a Seattle fundraiser for the Senate race. O’Rourke singled her out in the crowd and told everyone she was a great person who didn’t complain that his band once had eaten all her cereal. But there was one thing he didn’t mention: how they met.