Three Funerals…And Some Precedence for Presidents

August 31st 2018mcains final salute

They buried John McCain and Aretha Franklin today. Both had Presidents in attendance (Bill Clinton at Franklin’s and he and all the other retired Presidents at McCain’s) and both were free of Trumps. Both ceremonies were on the telly in the background and I didn’t pay deep attention. I don’t intend to eulogise either of them here, not out of disrespect, but simply because I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said thousands of times over the past week. I’ll simply note that 250 years from now, should we survive, every historian will know who McCain was, and every music lover will know who Franklin was.

I don’t mean to sound churlish—McCain had hundreds of very important people who said very important things about him, but I can’t help but think that the praises heaped on him, and the expositions of his importance to the country, were a bit more effusive and ebullient then they actually needed to be. It’s almost as if they were rubbing it in, somehow.

Well, the headline over a David Smith article at the Guardian let the cat out of the bag: Trump sits alone ‘sulking’ as Washington pays its respects to John McCain.

Ah, poor widdle Donnie needs his nappie changed! His behavior towards McCain has always been churlish—really churlish, and not just me trying to avoid sounding that way. Trump is a man whose soul resides where the sewer rats won’t go, but he hit new personal lows in his response to McCain’s death this week. That stunt of ordering the flags back to full mast the day after McCain died…

One of the Weasels noted that McCain’s family missed a bet. They should have invited Justin Trudeau.

Vice President Pence, who always looks like Leslie Nielsen with severe constipation, spoke at the McCain ceremony, and I believe he was the only one who uttered the words “President Trump.” The pained, sullen silence that greeted his invocation of the Glorious Leader must have seemed very strange to him: he’s used to watching cabinet members cheer, stomp and hoot every time Trump’s name is mentioned. Maybe he went home afterward, dropped to his knees, and said, “Jesus, you gots some ‘splaining to do…”

Aretha’s funeral was a happier, more boisterous affair. The eulogies were cheery, heartfelt, loving and often funny. But the most amazing tribute was one played by a small and rather unremarkable marching band some five time zones east. The Buckingham Palace Guard, in their traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony, played “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” It was unthinkable, and couldn’t have been done without the Queen’s knowledge and consent.

At McCain’s funeral, people showed respect. At Franklin’s, they sang it.

Trump knew of Franklin’s death, of course, tweeting that she had worked for him on several occasions. Even by Trump standards, it was a weird response. Imagine Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry tweeting, “Stephen Hawking? Oh, I had him on my show once!”

I’m not sure Trump actually knew who Franklin was, though. Otherwise he might have tweeted something like “Imagine how great quality a singer if she had been white!” Yes, I know some of you are wincing, but admit it: you could see Trump coming up with something like that. Nobody else. Just Trump.

Glioblastoma, one of the most loathsome forms of cancer around, caused McCain’s death, and played a role in his funeral. His death came nine years to the day after Ted Kennedy died of the same disease, and one of the eulogies was delivered by Vice President Joe Biden, whose son Beau died of the disease at age 46.

The funerals are over now, and Trump can stop pretending he’s concentrating on his golf game and continue preparing for the burial of his presidency. It’s Friday, and the Office of the Special Counsel (note spelling, Donny!) often has new announcement and new indictments on a Friday. There’s an unofficial courtesy in Washington that legal attacks on a campaign should not occur after Labor Day, but of course, Trump himself isn’t running for office this year.

So now he can have the flag put back up to full staff, and hopefully, as he does so, he can study the flag and learn which colors go where in case he ever has to crayon another flag. (Hint, Donnie: none of the stripes are blue. Not on the American flag, anyway. Your flag probably does have a blue stripe.)

So Trump can stop worrying about those greedy, selfish people who keep upstaging him by dying. Hopefully there won’t be any others for a while.

In the meantime, Trump can draw solace in the knowledge that his own funeral is one of the most highly-anticipated events of the century.

The downside: it will be the lightest attended.

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Donald, Duck! In the wake of the Manafort and Cohen catastrophes, more looms

August 23rd, 2018

Did you spill your popcorn following the Travesty of the Donald this week? Leave it. Things are going to get fast and furious, and you aren’t going to have time to make more popcorn.
Pecker! That’s what this complex of scandals was missing! A corrupt pseudo-journalist named Pecker turning on Trump. Now this David Pecker is a newspaper man in much the same way that Trump is a president: he has the power, and the accoutrements pertaining thereto, but he’s still just a dangerous joke.
He’s the owner of the supermarket tabloid, the National Enquirer. Long the province of psychics, bat-boys, and endless scandalous (and almost always false) rumors, it branched out into politics in the 1990s, breathlessly detailing secret meetings between Bill Clinton and space aliens. It was unbelievably stupid, but it put Clinton in a bad light (space aliens, really) so it became a new bible for the types of morons who think the notion that Earth is a big old ball just hanging in space is just a conspiracy by scientists to make us all not love Jesus. The Ray-de-oh is broke, so they can’t listen to tINFOil WARS.
So when you have a candidate come along who bangs porn stars, and is possibly a Russian agent and might have had hookers put on a golden shower show for him, you would think the National Enquirer would expand to 500 pages weekly just to keep up with all the lurid scum flowing from this walking sewer of a candidate.
Um, no. They didn’t. In fact they went out of their way to protect him, buying up tell-all stories from women who got paid not to discuss having sex with Trump, and starting an unending stream of attacks on Hillary.
Rachel Maddow tonight showed a bakers’ dozen covers from the NE, putting Trump in a god-like light, and blasting Hillary Clinton over and over.
Interestingly, much of what they accused Clinton of was things we know Trump was doing. She was corrupt, swindled people, kowtowed to foreign agencies, was secretly a lesbian who banged porn stars, ran a fake charity, and lied a lot. It was part of the standard right wing propaganda: protect your candidate from his own ruinous behavior by accusing his opponent of the same things. It confuses the cows in the supermarket line.
Interestingly, the tab also accused Hillary of being far sicker and more senile than she looked, and having a severe drug problem. Was that part of the same pattern? Are these Trump problems being projected?
You know, things with this administration phase between ‘chilling’ and ‘ridiculous’ so fast and so often it’s frequently hard to tell which is which.  But this one involves long-time scandal rag ‘National Enquirer’ covering up for a corrupt politician on multiple sex scandals, so let’s call it ‘ridiculous.’
In any event, Vanity Fair and the Wall Street Journal (who seem to be getting very fed up with Trump these days) reported that Pecker and his Vice President and Chief Content Officer, Dylan Howard, were granted immunity in return for some nice long chats (30 hours worth?) with Robert Mueller’s people. There are lurid rumors of a safe in Pecker’s office that is crammed with hundreds of stories the NE has covered Trump on.
Trump is openly musing a pardon for Manafort trial even as the second one looms. This, by itself, is a federal felony by Trump, an open move to obstruct justice. Mueller probably grinned mirthlessly and added it to his very long list.
Cohen is going to have some nice long chats with the Special Counsel’s office himself. Apparently he’s not too fond of Captain Pissmop any more and wants to share more items. One line in the court proceedings where he entered his pleas might give a clue as to what he wants to discuss: “The $50,000 represented a claimed payment for ‘tech services,’ which in fact related to work COHEN had solicited from a technology company during and in connection with the campaign.”
OK, here’s the thing: The Trump campaign detailed all their spending in regards to computer servers, use and communications.
Except this. There’s a hint the ‘tech service’ in question was based in Russia.
If there was direct clandestine communication between the Trump campaign and Russia during the campaign, even the corrupt, venal, cowardly and unpatriotic Republicans in Congress will have to abandon their dreams of enslaving the American people and cut their losses—and Trump’s throat.
If you have any popcorn left, hang on to it tightly, no matter what your dog suggests.

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The Squirrel Seller

Khalid rubbed the dusty and sunburned bridge of his nose and tried not to glare in disgust. The man before him was aged, and perhaps not quite right in the head. The Prophet taught the virtue of compassion for the aged and the infirm, even if they were assholes. This particular asshole may have stood tall just a few decades before, and a small ring of blubber around his midriff suggested he might have been portly at the every least. Khalid could imagine him waddling about an almost-forgotten green and verdant golf course, relics of cool and wet times. Now he was as dessicated and worn as the sun-and-wind blasted lands in which they lived.

“I have no interest in your squirrels,” Khalid explained patiently. “Half the people within a day’s journey of here have squirrel farms, including myself.” He pointed to a board behind him. The board read “Fresh water: One liter for one cat. One half liter per chicken. One liter for one kilo of edible nuts, fruits, tubers. One liter for small dog, two for medium (10-30 kg) three for a large.”

He tapped the board meaningfully. “No squirrels. No chipmunks. No rats. No rodents of any kind. Everyone has all they can eat, and then some. Bring me a live turkey, and I’ll give you three liters. I’ll give you twelve liters for a tom.”

“I don’t have any toms.” The supplicant, bald but for a few straggled wisps about the ears, sagged, the very picture of abject misery.

Khalid, burdened with the idealism of youth, might have been a bit more sympathetic, but the man had a long history of lying, cheating, and flat-out swindling. He often had contracted with someone, receiving a good or service, and then sneering and simply stiffing the person with whom he had made his agreement. If pressed, he would offer coins of silver or gold, arguing that their value easily exceeded that of the food or water or labor he had received. In theory, that was true, but people had discovered that they could not eat gold and silver, and everyone was desperately clinging to survival and couldn’t be bothered with jewelry and ornaments.

The Prophet’s Law taught that the visitor should be afforded amenities and courtesies, and that to turn away a beggar was shameful, and to do so to a man incapable of caring for himself was a deep disgrace. Outside of the conclave lay only dust and heat and the rapidly decaying ruins of what had, just twenty years before, been a prosperous suburb with cars and trees and running water. A young and vigorous man armed with knowledge and quick wits might survive in the deserts of Maryland, but this old wreck was not young, nor vigorous, and it was doubtful he ever possessed knowledge or quick wits.

Some of the residents argued that he should be expelled anyway. He was a thief. He was also a braggart, a conceited blowhard who demanded respect he had done nothing to earn, boasting of great wealth and power, and had even been known to use such sad flourishes to bully some of the village children. At least once he had been beaten, when his hand brushed against a woman’s breast once too often for it to be mere coincidence.

The beggar glared. “Someone told you not to take my squirrels. I will find him, and he’ll pay. Believe me. He’ll pay.”

“No one told me not to take your squirrels. I don’t take any squirrels. I can’t sell them, I can’t trade them, and I don’t need them for food. Come back with some cloth, or unbroken glass, and I will treat with you.”

“You are a poor businessman. You have goods to trade, I have goods to trade. What is the problem?”

“You need my goods. I don’t need yours.”

“I could make better use of them than you.”

Khalid ignored the jibe. “But I have no need of your goods. The art of the deal is based on the value perceived by each party, resulting in a trade.”

“Who taught you that shit? Look, these are fine squirrels. The best squirrels. I raised them like they were my own children. Believe me, you will never regret buying these squirrels.”

Khalid glanced into the cage, where a half dozen dusty and disheveled rodents resided. One blinked at him slowly with rheumy eyes, and another appeared to be in the throes of an epileptic seizure. The beggar gestured at them, beaming with pride. “These are quality squirrels.”

“If you raised your children like you raised these poor creatures, it would explain why your children are not helping you in your dotage.”

“Those swine.” The old man spoke without passion or conviction, but spat precious bodily fluid into the dust. “They abandoned me in my hour of greatest need. I was a great father, the best father, and they turned away from me. They were disloyal!” Now the beggar’s voice rose, and his eyes flashed. “Disloyal!”

Khalid sighed. This was a well-worn recording. Left uninterrupted, the screed would expand, until Earth’s once-teeming billions had all risen up in conspiracy and envy to destroy this man. And indeed, Khalid had heard reports that had civilisation not collapsed in 2019, this man might well have been in prison today, along with his wives and children. If any of his family remained alive, Khalid thought. It was little wonder they would eschew this vile man.

Khalid’s patience was at an end in the sweltering day. He rose from his seat, towering over the old man, who shrunk in on himself, revealing a personal cowardice.

“Look, enough is enough. I have told you what I am willing to trade fresh, clean water for. If you cannot find items of value, you can drink from the river everyone else drinks from. It won’t kill you.”

“But it’s scummy and tastes bad,” the beggar whimpered. “Do you have any idea who I am? I am the most important man in the world! You can’t make me drink bad water!” His eyes glittered, whether from self-pity or calculation Khalid couldn’t tell.

This, too, was a familiar tack in the squabble. The man would describe how he had smote nations, and punished the parasitic poor. It was a bloody canvas of greed and avarice and vainglory, and Khalid had no desire to sit through the demented diatribe.

He slapped his hands on the rough-hewn counter, and again the beggar shrank back, quailing.

“Look, Donald,” Khalid growled, using the beggar’s name for emphasis. “One last time.”

He pointed to the board. “This is what I want for my water. Produce that, or leave.

“And don’t waste my time telling me how powerful you once were.

“The fact is, I don’t care what you were President of.”

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Omarosa Crazed crying lowlifes, Unite!

When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General [John] Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Well, OK then. Apparently it is the role of the President of the United States to give politically sensitive jobs paying nearly a quarter million a year to “crazed, crying lowlife(s).”

Usually mercy hires are for custodian, or mail clerk. Something with limited responsibility, even more limited visibility, and where if it doesn’t work out, the damage can be swiftly addressed. Press Liaison for the White House might be above the paygrade of your typical crazed, crying lowlife. It might be suitable for a dog, or even a cat: Bo, Millie and Socks are all very good press liaisons for their respective administrations, and they weren’t even asked to sign non-disclosure agreements. But it was generally assumed the White House would avoid crazed crying lowlifes since the Mary Lincoln incidents. Normally, crazed crying lowlifes are not well suited to be envoys and ambassadors for the President. Until now.

“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General [John] Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”Back when she was hired, days after the election, I knew little about her, but considered the choice to be a joke. A reality-TV show actor whose main claim to fame was she was the resident Samantha Bee word. A close match for the President elect, who fitted the same description, but at the time, I had no idea he was hiring her because she was a crazed crying lowlife. As a liberal, I like to see all segments of society represented in government, but this seemed a bit beyond the necessary courtesies of inclusionism.

In short, I regarded Omarosa, and her subsequent dismissal, as just one more minor sideshow Trump’s Big Top, appearing soon in a Stephen King novel near you. Her role in this chaotic administration could be equated to noticing a dog lifting his leg against a woman’s expensive boots during a nuclear attack. No catastrophe is complete without its moments of low farce, and Omarosa seemed perfect for the role of minor low farce.

Then I heard about the tapes. I didn’t expect them to amount to much. Trump has boasted he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it, and Republicans and Faux News are intent on proving him right. Even if the tapes had something damning, Republicans are far too lost and amoral to care. They smell power, and so fuck morality, fuck propriety, fuck the country, fuck everything.

My opinion of Omarosa went up minutely, though. She had enough common sense to tape her interactions with Trump.

Now it’s coming to light that taping Trump was de rigueur at the House of the Orange Pomposity, and damn the non-disclosure agreements. People simply felt a need to protect themselves.

This isn’t something about Trump we didn’t already know. During the campaign, it came out that his lawyers got in the habit of conferring with him in teams of two or more. The reason was simple: Trump was the ultimate nightmare client. He would not only lie to his lawyers, but if cornered, he would lie about them. In fact, he would lie for no particular reason at all.

We’ve seen this literally thousands of times during his presidency. Trump lies. He lies when it suits his interests. He lies just for the hell of it. He sometimes even lies when it does nothing but hurt his own interests. There’s an old political joke: “George Washington couldn’t lie, FDR couldn’t tell the truth, and [incumbent] can’t tell the difference.” I first heard it during the Nixon administration, and just about for every administration since.

Only now it isn’t a joke. I doubt Trump usually knows if he’s lying or not, and wouldn’t care either way.

His lawyers figured that out fairly quickly, and double-teamed him because he would, inevitably, betray them and throw them under the bus. He wouldn’t even need a reason.

Getting elected president didn’t make him better, any more than feeding a rabid dog will make him a good playmate for the kids. (Yeah, I just compared the President of the United States to a dog. What goes around comes around!).

So we have a White House where the leader is so chaotically temperamental and destructive that the people putatively working for him are recording him to cover their asses. Despite the non-disclosure agreements.

Speaking of which, campaigns often have their volunteers sign NDAs. I came across a copy of the one required by the Obama campaign in 2008 ( https://obama.3cdn.net/d33f3886bfb70a0cca_zrs9mvxyt.pdf ). Its scope is significantly more limited than the one Trump used ( http://slnews.us/sf081418a ), both in terms and range of items not to be discussed. One limit was that it forbade disclosures that might hurt the campaign, giving it a term of the day after the election. Trump’s is indefinite, and thus may not hold up in court. The Trump campaign supposedly is suing Omarosa “for millions of dollars”, so it will be interesting to see if a court considers it enforceable or not.

It’s being reported that Trump had administration hires sign and NDA, as well, and that’s far more problematic. Security clearances (which Trump tried to grandly ignore) are one thing: it’s reasonable to set limits on access to national security elements. But NDAs, something no other administration has ever required, is another. Is it reasonable, or even legal to require government employees to keep non-national-security items secret from the public? I suspect that’s going to get tested in court in fairly short order.

In the meantime, if you’re an employer, owner of a large firm, and you want to show how big-hearted you are and hire a crazed, crying lowlife, that’s probably a nice thing to do, but one word of advice: don’t put that hire in charge of your public relations. Get a dog instead.

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Trump Bumps — His Road to Ruin is not a Smooth Ride

August 12th, 2018

Despite the obvious peril and potential for great harm to the nation and the world, it’s enjoyable watching Trump continue to personally disintegrate as all his crimes and disgraceful behavior catch up to him. But make no mistake: it’s a very dangerous time.

The nation has been here before. Nixon, of course, but before that, as well. In 1932 FDR and the Democrats won the election by vast margins, but the nation was on the verge of collapse, and it would be a full four months before FDR and the Democrats assumed control. In the meantime, Herbert Hoover and the Republicans, ideologically incapable of addressing the Great Depression, were in control, and persuing the same destructive policies that had served them and the nation so poorly over the past 3+ years. Hoover was not a villain, not insane, and not heedless of the destruction that was driving the country into a morass. In desperation, at one point he offered FDR a “copresidency” to work through to the day, still months off, when FDR would be inaugurated. FDR sensed a trap, or at least a no-win situation, and declined. The country writhed in agony.

By the time FDR did take office, a third of the banks were shuttered, a dozen states were using script because US currency was no longer trusted, and unemployment was over 30% and starvation was widespread.

The political situation caused by the long gap between the election and inauguration was so dire that a Constitutional Amendment (20th) was passed, making the inauguration the twentieth of January, and the convening of the new Congress even earlier, January 3rd. Never again, it was resolved, would the country go through a slow-motion hanging as it did during the winter of 1932-33.

When Nixon fell, the denouement, after two years of investigations, was relatively rapid. Despite the sense of crisis, the country sensed that Congress would do its job if required, and the Court would rule in the national interest. When the Supreme Court did rule, 8-0, that he must release the tapes, Congressional leaders went to Nixon and told him he no longer had any hope of avoiding impeachment and conviction, and a few days after that, he was gone.

The moral rot in the GOP began in 1964 when the right wing first seized control of the party, making it the party of the loony John Birchers. Four years later, and Nixon embraced the bigots and aggrieved whites of the South, the infamous “southern strategy” which put the party on a pernicious path of ongoing public deception. So both fiscally and socially, the party had to put false faces on their true aims, hiding designs on the public treasury behind false concerns about ‘big government’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’ (and they went on to triple the size of the federal government and are responsible for nine out of every ten dollars in the national debt), and hiding their racist and authoritarian aims behind fake patriotism, fake religion, and loud claims that anyone who opposed them was socialist, if not disloyal.

It was a toxic stew even before it embraced the loony fundamentalist movement under Reagan, and the belief that the law existed to harass and persecute non-Republicans under Newt Gingrich.

It explains why Trump came to be the presidential candidate for the GOP, and why the party is utterly supine in the face of his obviously disastrous presidency. He is their Frankenstein’s monster, and like the doctor, they have lost control of their creation.

During the Hoover crisis, Hoover was a decent man trapped in an impossible situation, locked in by the always-destined-to-fail policies of Wall Street. He went on to serve the country honorably after the war and redeemed himself. Nixon may have had little interest in the welfare of the citizenry, and his patriotism is certainly open to question, but Republicans, at least, realized his position was untenable, and they needed to do the right thing, if only to save their own asses.

The safeguards that saved us in 1933 and in 1974 aren’t there. Republicans, trapped between voracious plutocrats who sense a change to make America their own private property, and the toxic little authoritarians of the trash right who want to make America a racist theocracy, can’t move without risking an eruption and rebellion by their base. The Supreme Court is compromised, and stands to be a plaything for fascists if the Republicans ram through the Kavanaugh nomination. And of course, Trump is completely amoral, and may not be intellectually or emotionally capable of knowing when he has lost, and decide to pull everything down around with him, a Samson-smash, a bid for failed glory.

Still, it’s not hopeless. The “Unite the Right” movement has failed so utterly that even Trump worked up the courage today to condemn Nazis. The huge demonstration in Washington attracted only a few dozen—and thousands of anti-fascist counter demonstrators.

Trump needs extremes and extremists to promote himself. His entire political career is modeled, after all, on “New World Order” by A. Hitler. Obviously America isn’t ready for Nazism.

He needs plutocrats, and they need him only if they profit, and dismay at his economic policies is growing rapidly as trade wars and increasing tensions work to isolate and ruin America financially.

Still, for America, that is not a good solution. After all, if plutocrats and the trash right turn on Trump and destroy him, it leaves the country beholden to the same groups that created him in the first place.

Best answer: the people must vote in November, and drive the Republicans far from the reins of power, and reinstate democratic freedoms and sanity.

 

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Ja-Qs! Well, Ex-Qs me! It’s a Sign Qanon!

By Bryan Zepp Jamieson

August 5th 2018

I had a client once who loved conspiracy theories. Not in the abstract; he didn’t collect them as amusing oddities; he earnestly believed each one, and strove to work each into his own, very peculiar theology. Cover up at Area 51? Check! CIA putting chemicals in the air to make us docile? You betcha! The Queen of England and the Bush family were secretly extraterrestrial lizard people? Let’s have them drop drawers and check for tails! He came up with a few of his own: the Pharaohs of Egypt were all secretly Jewish. (He self-published a book about this, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why they would be secretly Jewish, or what advantage this gave them, or anyone.) He adored David Icke, and fairly routinely lost money to cults and online scams vowing to reveal hidden truths.

This was back around the turn of the century, and the majority of conspiracy theories, and their adherents, were harmless cranks. My client, when he wasn’t sputtering utter drivel gleaned from some mimeograph with an eye of Mordur letterhead, was pleasant, intelligent, kindly and caring—as nice a person as you could possibly hope to meet.

But even before the rise of the toxic and vicious Alex Jones, and the systematic cruelty of his followers, conspiracy theories had a dark side. Many were racist, or at least bigoted, and some could be utterly vile. Tony Alamo took the same stance toward Catholics that Hitler had toward Jews, and with similar rationales. Conspiracy theories were a favorite element of demagogues, religious cults, and sociopaths. A local new age movement has definable links to Nazi groups, often with members of either being aware of the links between the two.

My client ran afoul of this dark element. He came in one morning with a self-written article he wished me to put up on his website. I glanced at it, and spotted the words “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Apprehensive, I gave it a quick scan. He was arguing that “Protocols” had been denigrated, not by the falsity of the claims, but by a vast hidden conspiracy of International bankers.

“You should drop this,” I said. “Nothing good will come of it.”

“I’m not afraid of Israel,” he declared stoutly.

I wasn’t worried about Israel either. But we had a fairly large number of mutual friends and acquaintances, and some of them were Jewish. I named some of them, and pointed out they would be hurt, and feel betrayed by the claim that this viciously anti-Semitic tract was factually based.

He considered, nodding slightly—either an affectation of showing deep thought, or a resting tremor—and drew a firm line with his mouth. Truth, no matter how unpalatable, must be upheld. This was hidden knowledge, and therefore must be True.

I could advise, but I couldn’t censor. I put the page up.

He caught hell for it, of course—not just from Jewish readers, but a lot of other directed sorts who knew hate speech when they saw it.

My client was hurt, depressed, and resolute. Hidden truths, he believed, were the most important truths of all. I’m happy to report that most of his friends understood that his page stemmed, not from some dark animus toward Jews, but from this odd psychological and intellectual tic of his. A few stopped talking to him, but it was generally understood that this latest page was a point on a continuum, and not a sudden dark descent into Nazism.

“Hidden” is key to understanding the psychology of the conspiracy theorist. It is the element that, in their eyes, proves the validity of the theory. If something is true, yet hidden, then clearly there must be a conspiracy involved! Conspiracy theorists don’t care much for mysteries, but they love secrets.

Every once in a while, a conspiracy theory turns out to be true: The CIA really did conduct mind-control experiments; the military really did do dry test runs of toxic gases in the NY subways, they really did spread contagion in Havana. The FBI really did track Martin Luther King and put spies in the anti-Vietnam peace movement. However: The instant a conspiracy theory is proven true, interest in it collapses. The attitude is “Yeah, it happened. Just proves government is evil. [Yawn]. But we still don’t know who murdered Princess Di!”

But since the turn of the century, something nasty has happened: conspiracy theories have become weaponized. They are more ludicrous, and at the same time more vicious. The followers are less amiable cranks and more meth-addled wannabee brownshirts. No longer content to dismiss nonbelievers as ‘sheeple’, they condemn, threaten, and sometimes even assault those who doubt their hidden truths. It is a confluence of several things; the rise of the web, the dark web in particular. A darkening of the public mood since 9/11, a greater willingness to embrace authoritarianism and savagery. And a flood of misinformation, either the paid-for variety of corporations and churches, or the general nuttiness of the truth seekers.

There are vile little sociopaths who adhere to the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories, that the shootings never happened and the bereaved parents are just “trauma actors”–people paid to be professional victims by the media for interviews and ratings. They personify the aggressive viciousness of today’s nuts.

This dark web of conspiracy theorists has coalesced around some anonymous crackpot(s) claiming to be from the higher reaches of the “deep state,” striving to now destroy this deep state they served because Hillary or Infowars or some nutball thing. This entity goes by the name of “Q Clearance Patriot” and first showed up in the festering emotional swamps of 4chan. Q supposedly was highly placed government operative. This source has produced a panoply of conspiracy theories, both familiar (The Rothschilds, CIA stooges as foreign leaders) and strange—vast pedophile rings run by ranking Democrats and intelligence agencies, or that Mueller is secretly working with Trump to discredit Trump’s enemies. The people bathing in this raw sewerage call themselves “QAnon”.

Despite that last one, Trump is very warm to this pack of loons, and people wearing QAnon T-shirts are becoming more noticeable at his rallies. Yes, he’s encouraging them. Even worse, THEY are encouraging him. He’s actually subscribing to their craziness, or at least strongly pretending to.

Well, maybe not the Mueller one. I’m guessing he doesn’t view Bob Mueller as his hidden enabler.

It’s no surprise that Trump attracts such as supporters. We’ve long passed the point where any Trump supporter should be considered a fool, a crackpot, a crook, an enemy of the United States, or any combination of the above.

That Trump is openly encouraging them is troubling, and a sign of how desperate BLOTUS (Biggest Liar Of The United States) has become.

I suspect my client, if he was still alive today, would be appalled.

We have to make sure Trump’s desperation and recklessness in treating with these lunatics doesn’t become our crisis.

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